Welcome to Est. 1999, the official blog of Abraham Translations. As is perhaps easy to surmise, the name of this blog reflects the year that Abraham Translations was founded.
It all began with the correction of a few texts that had been translated by another time-pressed translator. Within the year, translating had become my main source of income; now, it has long been the only way I put bacon on the table.
I am rather proud of many of the projects on which I have worked.
Est. 1999, basically, is a visual confirmation of past projects, a blowing of my own horn, a presentation of translator-related topics, and an occasional departure into other areas that I deem worthy of presenting. Enjoy.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Johannes Heisig

(ISBN-10: 3925782753 /ISBN-13: 978-3925782756 2012)
Another bilingual (German & English) catalog for Die Galerie, Frankfurt, this time for the 2012 solo exhibition of the German painter Johannes Heisig, which ran at the gallery from 15 November 2012 – 19 January 2013.
Heisig, the son of Bernhard Heisig, one of the principal artists of the "Old Leipzig School" as well as teacher of many artists from the "New Leipzig School", was born in Leipzig. He studied art at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig (1973-77) and the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts (1978-80). Currently, he lives and works in Berlin.
The 88-page catalog to the show at Die Galerie includes texts by Dr. Christiane Ladleif, the current director of the Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche of the City of Aschaffenburg, and the German author Eva Demski, as well as a foreword by the gallerist Peter Femfert.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Violet Rockweiler and the Monster Botany (2007)

Violet Rockweiler and the Monster Botany, children's book, 40 pages, 20x20 cm
In June, 2015, I mentioned how I did the translations for the first edition of Felix Pestemer's excellent graphic novel, Polvo: Day of the Dead, and the later expanded edition, The Dust of the Ancestors. Pestemer has also produced a variety of extremely unique children's books with decidedly odd stories, including this one, Violet Rockweiler and the Monster Botany, which he co-wrote with Maria Guitart Ferrer.
The German edition of the book was published privately and can be read (for free) online here.
The English-language translation, I regret to say, has seemingly fallen into a void: even now, eight years later, it has yet to see the light of day — a fate that happens rarely, but is not unknown (I would say that, on average, once every two years one print or online project seems to simply disappear after the client has paid all invoices).
The plot of Violet Rockweiler and the Monster Botany, rewritten from the description found on Felix Pestemer's website: "Violeta Rockweiler is crazy about stink plum pudding. It's just bad luck that a plum pit gets stuck in her throat. When she finally manages to swallow it, it ends up in her third stomach. That's where monsters store a super-nutritious mixture for meagre times. A little while later, the plum pit takes root and twigs start growing out of Violeta's ears... Violet finds out that living with a plum tree rooted inside her isn't easy. However, there is one plus side: she's released from school. Her previously mocking schoolmates are suddenly pretty envious…"

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Song of Life / Das Lied des Lebens (2013)

From the Lichtfilm website: "While he was studying at the conservatory, German composer Bernhard König became fascinated with the 'wrinkled and grumbly voices' of the elderly. From that moment on, he decided to dedicate himself to finding an environment in which those voices could be fully appreciated. The Song of Life follows König during two intriguing projects. In the Sonnenberg nursing home in Stuttgart, he gets elderly ladies and gentlemen to the piano or accordion and translates the stories of their past into modern arrangements. In Cologne, he leads a chorus of old men and women if you're under 70, you need not try out — and together they put themes taken from their own lives to music. At a gradual pace, this stylized documentary captures how various compositions come to fruition, and how König — fascinated by this generation that was defined by the war — lovingly and patiently lets his elderly musicians shine. Poignant memories of youth and flashes of lives past are stirred up, while König and his protégés explore how certain feelings can best be translated into sound, achieving some truly touching results along the way."
For this documentary by director Irene Langemann, for whom I've often translated — particularly under the auspice of Lichtfilm, the firm that coproduced The Song of Life / Das Lied des Lebens with SWR, WDR and in cooperation with Arte — I translated the original director's statement and synopsis way back at the beginning of the production.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Myanmar – Leben am Großen Strom / Myanmar's Great River (2013)

Myanmar's Great River Episode 1, From Bhamo to Mandalay; Episode 2, From Mandalay to the Delta  
A co-production with SWR, NDR, and ARTE, Myanmar's Great River has been broadcast a number of times already and is now available on DVD. This two-part documentary by Bernd Girrbach & Rolf Lambert is the first of numerous projects from Along Mekong Productions on which I have worked as translator; in general, as is the case here, I have translated the voiceover texts. (Regrettably, the segment below, the only one I could find online, still has the German voiceover.)
Trailer "Entlang des Ayeyarwady durch Myanmar" from Along Mekong Productions on Vimeo. 
The German explanation of the documentary: "Myanmar, das einstige Birma, hat sich nach Jahrzehnten Militärdiktatur geöffnet und demokratische Reformen begonnen. Ein Fluss prägt das Land völlig, der Ayeyarwady. Über 2170 Kilometer durchfließt er das Land – als Lebensader, Kulturstifter und zentraler Verkehrsweg. Er verbindet die wichtigsten historischen Orte Myanmars wie Mandalay, Bagan, Yangon und ist gesäumt von goldglänzenden Stupas, Tempeln und Pagoden. Zur Kolonialzeit befuhr die größte Binnenflotte der Welt den Fluss. Am Mittel- und Oberlauf ist er noch heute oft die einzige Verbindung zur Außenwelt und viel befahren, mit schwer beladenen Lastkähnen und klapprigen Personenfähren. Einen Monat lang fuhren die Autoren Rolf Lambert und Bernd Girrbach auf dem Fluss. Vor allem, um Menschen in ihrem Alltag kennen zu lernen: Kapitäne, Fischer, Mönche, Goldwäscher, ein Marionetten-Ensemble, eine Architektin, die für den Erhalt der Kolonialbauten kämpft. Die Filme erzählen vom Alltag Myanmars zu einer Zeit des Aufbruchs und Umbruchs."

A quick and loose English translation:"Myanmar, formerly Burma, has opened its borders after decades of dictatorship and begun democratic reforms. Life in the country has been shaped by a river, the Ayeyarwady: about 2170 km long, it flows through the country, dominating both the landscape and culture. It passes the nation's major historical sites, including Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon, and is lined with golden stupas, temples, and pagodas. During colonial times, the largest domestic fleet in the world sailed the river, and even today the much-used and overloaded barges and rickety passenger ferries are the only link between the middle and upper reaches of the river and the outside world. For a month, the filmmakers Rolf Lambert and Bernd Girrbach travelled the river and got to know everyday people living their everyday life, including boat captains, fishermen, monks, gold panners, a troupe of puppeteers, and an architect fighting for the preservation of colonial houses. The films offers an insight to the everyday life in Myanmar in a time of upheaval and change."

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Karl Otto Götz

(ISBN-10: 3925782834 / ISBN-13: 978-3925782831)
This 120-page, hardcover and bilingual (German and English) catalogue accompanied an exhibition of K.O. Götz's work that ran at Die Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, from 11 September to 8 November, 2014. 
The texts were contributed by the artist Prof. Rissa (a.k.a. Karin Götz, maiden name Martin, the wife of K.O. Götz), Els Ottenhof (the director of the CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen), the German concrete poet Franz Mon, and the curator and author Ina Ströher. The translations were supplied by moi.
To quote Wikipedia (accessed 26/11/15): "Karl Otto Götz (born 22 February 1914), often simply called K.O. Götz, is a German artist, film maker, draughtsman, printmaker, writer and professor of art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He is one of the oldest living and active artists who are older than 100 years of age and is known for his explosive and complex abstract forms. His powerful, surrealist-inspired works have earned him international recognition in exhibitions like documenta II in 1959. Götz has never confined himself to one specific style or artistic field. He also explored generated abstract forms through television art.  Götz is one of the most important members of the German Art Informel movement. His works and teachings influenced future artists such as Sigmar Polke, Nam June Paik and Gerhard Richter. Currently, he is living and working in Wolfenacker in the Westerwald."
Of special note (at least to me): He was the first German member of the CoBrA art group, which, in turn, was perhaps one of the first pan-European art groups.
K.O. Goetz, "Giverny V", 1988, 200cm x 260cm
(From Die Galerie's website)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Beethoven Files / Die Akte Beethoven (2013)

In 2012, I translated was the original treatment for The Beethoven Files, another instalment of the TV series The Culture Files, which focuses on important cultural figures of the past. (See: The Kleist File.) Written by Hedwig Schmutte, this 52-minute episode was directed by Hedwig Schmutte and Ralf Pleger, and features Lars Eidinger (of Hell [2011 / trailer]) as Beethoven and Pheline Roggan as Josephine Brunsvik. The Gebrueder Beetz production was funded by the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and MEDIA and Film- und Medien Stiftung NRW, in co-operation with Beethoven-Haus Bonn.
To take the explanation of the episode as found on the Gebrueder Beetz's website: "Ludwig van Beethoven's work is legendary – and already was while he was still alive. He is famous around the world, and yet little is known about the conditions under which his music was composed. One thing is certain: he composed most of his masterpieces AFTER the onset of his deafness. When he composed his famous 9th symphony, he wasn't able to hear a thing! A deaf composer? How is that possible? 200 years after Beethoven's death, The Beethoven File casts light of one of the biggest mysteries of music history."

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Igor Mitoraj – Skulpturen / Sculptures

(ISBN-10: 3925782729 / ISBN-13: 978-3925782725)
An 80-page hardcover catalog published in conjunction with his exhibition (6 June – 2 September 2012) at Die Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, and the public display of his work on the grounds in front of the Poelzig Bau (formerly known as the IG Farben Building), otherwise known as Campus Westend of the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. German texts by Cécile Schortmann and Elke Mohr, English-language translation by moi.
The Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj (26 March 1944 – 6 October 2014) was born in Oederan, Germany, to a Polish mother and a French father. He studied at the Cracow Kunsthochschule (Art School) and at the Cracow Kunstakademie (Art Academy) and, later, the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. As of 1974, his artistic focus turned to sculpture.
As The Guardian explains in their obituary of the artist: "Igor Mitoraj, who has died aged 70, was a monumental sculptor who kept his brand of classicism in fashion by combining technical ability with a certain postmodern malaise. His fractured anatomies and immense bandaged heads [...] were both accessible and enigmatic. Rupture and fragmentation became metaphors for the passing of antiquity, but could also stand for the nature of time itself, and indeed the whole human condition. A viewer of these broken forms might recall Shelley's lines: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!' The sculptures also look fabulous."
Photo by esc (found online).