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.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Andre Masson – Femmes

(ISBN-10: 3925782737 / ISBN-13: 978-3925782732)
Cover art: André Masson, Nu devant le Feu, 1944, pastel on paper, 24.5 x 20 cm.
This 88-page, hardcover bilingual (German and English) catalogue from 2015 accompanied an exhibition at Die Galerie, Frankfurt am Main. It includes texts by Dr. Carla Schulz-Hofmann, Dr. Achim Sommer, Francis Marmande and Peter Femfert.
André-Aimé-René Masson (4 January 1896 – 28 October 1987) was, of course, one of the major French artists of the Modernist Period, and his influence can still be felt today. It is always a thrill for me when I get to work on projects involving art heroes that I not only respect, but that have influenced me (if indiscernibly) as an artist.
To simply quote the gallery flyer (which I translated): "Little consideration has been given heretofore to André Masson's connection to the feminine. Now, DIE GALERIE is putting this special affinity into the forefront of our fourth major solo exhibition of the French Surrealist: for the first time ever, all facets of Masson's perception of women are presented in this selection of approximately 50 paintings, works on paper and sculptures. Few other symbolic figures present in all of André Masson's creative periods fuse the philosophy and art of the artist as intensely as his portrayal of women. Beginning with cubistically abstract female bodies of the 1920s, the exhibition spans an arc from the impressive paintings produced during his major Surrealist period all the way up to the effortlessly airy, graphically spontaneous style of Filles de la Rue Saint Denis. Our exhibition honors an artistic genius who truly deserves his position alongside his important and popular contemporaries."
Example of a piece in the exhibition:
André Masson, Trois Nus, 1950,
oil on canvas, 65.5 x 50 cm.
An interesting aside, which has nothing to do with the show or catalogue, Masson's brother-in-law, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, was the last private owner of Gustave Courbet's famous and undeniably provocative painting L'Origine du monde ("The Origin of the World"), which, believed to have been modeled by Joanna Hiffernan, as far as I know now hangs in Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Lauf der Dinge (Germany, 2007)

Directed by Rolf S. Wolkenstein. Long ago — nine years ago, actually — I did the subtitles to this film for Subs Hamburg.
The plot synopsis to the movie, as found on Rolf S. Wolkenstein's website: "Sun, sea, sex – it's there for the taking on paradise island! And that's what they're there for, kids like Elisa (Zoé Anna Weiland), Richie (Manuel Cortez, also found somewhere in Die Nacht der lebenden Loser [2004 / trailer]), Florian (Sebastian Achilles) and Daniel (Tom Lass, also found somewhere in Krabat [2008 / trailer]). ... They've left the cold, grey North behind for fun and adventure on a Mediterranean island. Elisa: rich, spoiled, fleeing from daddy and his stifling upper-class morals. Richie: the sexy drifter for whom every woman is a potential meal ticket. Florian: sensitive, gentle, the type not only girls gravitate to. Daniel: stuck between adolescence and small-mindedness. But even in paradise there are some dark corners that never get any sun. It's where you can lose your way, or your bearings ... where you can discover love or refuse to see it ... where you realize that you haven't really left the cold, grey North behind – but that it's inside you – and that this is real life ...
An impressive début feature by Rolf S. Wolkenstein that takes a wry, unflinching look at young people suddenly facing the hard realities of life on a deceptively sunny vacation island."
Personally, I found the film really good, and while I was happy about the fate of one character, that of another left me depressed... though, in truth, I would've been far more depressed had different music welled up during the resolution of her story: as a native speaker, I really find that "emotionally meaningful", English-language songs played over emotionally heavy scenes should not be sung by people with accents thicker than those of Baccara.
Not from the film —
Baccara singing Yes Sir, I Can Boogie:

Baccara - Yes Sir I Can Boogie von Zerenodo

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Feng Zhengjie & Heiner Meyer – East Meets West Through Pop Art

(ISBN-10: 3925782656 / ISBN-13: 978-3925782657)
This 48-page hardcover catalog with texts by Susanne Holst-Steppat was published in conjunction with the double exhibition of Feng Zhengjie & Heiner Meyer that ran at Die Galerie in Frankfurt am Main from 9 June 2010 to 28 August 2010.
To quote the gallery press release: "For the first time ever, DIE GALERIE is presenting the oeuvre of the renowned German painter Heiner Meyer (b. 1953) in juxtaposition with works by the Chinese star artist Feng Zhengjie (b. 1968). [...] In his paintings, Heiner Meyer reflects on the ceaseless desire for consumption and self-expression in our Western world. His glamorous protagonists, Hollywood stars or models in the lap of luxury, are widely known life-style icons. His new series, Flowers, created especially for this exhibition, corresponds in a fascinating, provoking manner with the portraits of hybrid women by Feng Zhengjie. Both artists utilize the techniques of Pop Art and its closely related concept of serial pieces to illustrate contemporary social conditions – but their observations and reflections vary fundamentally. The result is an exciting discourse that poses questions on the own social positioning and that also explores the scope between closeness and distance, between East and West; a dialogue that searches for an exchange of cultures by means of similarities and differences."

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

100 Years of Hollywood — The Carl Laemmle Story (2011)

(TV, 43/52/78 min, HD.) Produced by Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion, Berlin/Cologne, in co-production with SWR and Arte, written and directed by Kai Christiansen, and released in 2011.
I worked on the project as a translator way back in 2008, when I translated an 8-page synopsis for the then-proposed project. I was (and still am) thrilled about being involved in the project, if only so distantly, because so many of my favorite classic horror films — to name but seven: The Phantom of the Opera (1925 / full public domain film), Paul Leni's The Cat and the Canary (1927 / full public domain masterpiece), James Whale's Frankenstein (1931 / trailer) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935 / trailer), Edgar G. Ulmar's The Black Cat (1935 / fan trailer), Dracula's Daughter (1936 / trailer), and Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932 / trailer) — were produced at Universal under Carl Laemmle (17 January 1867 – 24 September 1939). (Go here for a complete list of classic Universal Horror films.)
To present a corrected version of the press release used by Gebrüder Beetz (which I did not translate): "Red carpets, the frenzy of camera flashbulbs, tuxedos and evening gowns: Hollywood is celebrating its anniversary. For 100 years now the City of Angels has been the movie mecca of the world. Hollywood is the ultimate American Dream, which is why nobody would expect its success story to have its origins in small-town Germany: in Laupheim, the birthplace of the Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios.
"Coinciding with Hollywood's centenary, the documentary 100 Years of Hollywood — The Carl Laemmle Story traces the life of this small man from Germany who came to own the world's biggest film studio. Together with his niece, the actress Carla Laemmle (seen below, 20 October 1909 – 12 June 2014), who was born in the same year that the "dream factory" was founded 100 years ago, we embark on a fascinating journey through film history and go back in time to when Hollywood was still the Wild West and at Universal, the first Hollywood studio ever, Native Americans, elephants, and monsters lurked around every corner.
"In never-before-broadcast archive material, we suffer with the gesticulating grand diva of the silent screen, Mary Pickford; experience spine-tingling horror when confronted by the Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney), Frankenstein (Boris Karloff), and Dracula (Bela Lugosi); and fear for the heroes in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 / trailer), the courageous film which brought Carl Laemmle an Academy Award.
"100 Years of Hollywood looks back upon a life of unique work and searches for contemporary traces of Carl Laemmle's influence. In the spring of 2010, author and director Kai Christiansen and his team — cameraman Torben Müller and sound engineer Beate Müller — travelled to California where, accompanied by today's stars and filmmakers, they delved into Carl Laemmle's legacy. [...]"
The Great Carl Laemmle