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.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Future is Now! The Art Avant-garde of China Conquers the Market / Die Zukunft ist jetzt! Chinas Kunst Avantgarde erobert den Markt (2007)

Many years ago, when China and its art were suddenly getting hip, I translated a treatment for a four-part documentary TV series – this one. Produced by Gebrueder Beetz on behalf of ZDF/arte, the series was directed by Ilka Franzmann and written by Marco Wilms. As far as we can tell, the series was last screened on TV (arte) in 2011.
From the Beetz website:
"In China, 'the' land of globalization and gold-rush spirit, art likewise follows the Circe-song of international capital. Just like the skyscrapers of Shanghai, the prices for Chinese art are skyrocketing to new heights. By now, Chinese artists are being exhibited all over the world, including at important museums in Paris, and are being feted at leading international art events such as the Venice Biennale and Kassel Documenta. In the four-part series, we reveal the background and underlying stories behind the extraordinary work of the leading Chinese Shooting Stars – all of whom are representatives of a generation in upheaval and change."
The individual "shooting stars" given one 26-minute episode of their own: the at the time most-expensive painter of modern China Liu Xiaodong; "the current darling of the Western art world" Yang Fudong; Cao Fei, whose "work also moves to the technological pulse of the times"; and "the 26-year-old rebel" Chi Peng.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Most Secret Place on Earth: The CIA's Covert War in Laos / Amerikas geheimer Krieg in Laos - Die größte Militäroperation der CIA (2009)

(Documentary film written and directed by Marc Eberle; produced by Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduction with WDR/NDR/ARTE; 75/52/43 min, HD.)
In 2008, I worked on the voiceover text to this interesting documentary that surely hasn't been seen much within the USA.

To simply take an excerpt from the documentary's English-language press release:
"The Vietnam War was the most intensely mediated war ever. However, next door in neighboring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway, which eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. What’s more, outside of Laos no one knew.
"The Secret War was the largest operation ever conducted by the CIA, yet to this day, hardly anyone knows anything about it. Critics call it the biggest war crime of the Vietnam War era and point to striking similarities to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; similarities that were tested and set in motion back in Laos in the 1960s. The use of private contractors, mercenaries, as well as the exclusion of Congress and the press gave the executive branch a free hand to wage unlimited warfare as they saw fit. During the Secret War a bomb load was dropped on Laos every eight minutes over a period of eight years – 2.1 million tons of bombs fell onto this small landlocked South East Asian nation altogether, more than on Europe and the Pacific theatre combined during World War II. Even today much of the countryside is poisoned by Agent Orange and littered with unexploded devices. To date, the country has still not found peace, and remnants of the CIA’s secret army of Hmong hill tribe guerillas continue to clash with Lao government troops. [...]"
As an extra added attraction, below you find a video of one of the many wonderful songs sung by Ros Serey Sothea (1948 – 1977), perhaps one of the greatest Cambodian pop singers of the 20th century. Following the Fall of Phnom Penh, she was taken to the Kampong Som province and, presumably, executed. Her remains have yet to be discovered.
Ros Serey Sothea sings
Penh Chet Tae Bong Muoy - A Go Go:

Friday, 8 July 2016

Life Above the Clouds / Leben über den Wolken (2011)

(5 x 43 min or 5 x 52 min.) We first took part in this five-part documentary series way back in 2009, when we translated an early treatment for ma.ja.de. And then, as normal in the biz, that was that. We only recently found out that the series actually got produced as a German-Italian co-production with Stefilm.
The description of the series, as found both on the website of ma.ja.de and of the distributor of the series, Deckert Distribution: "In Life Above the Clouds, five locations on the European continent are presented where humans have managed, through perseverance and in a most impressive manner, to establish themselves 'above the clouds' despite all temptations of a simpler life further down below. They are one and all an exceptional phenomenon, for in many places, life at this altitude is threatened by extinction. New EU directives make the traditional forms of cultivation of many remote locations impossible, while the new, younger generations dream and desire to take part in the new globalised world of mobile phones and Internet. Likewise, the regional administrations and other institutions no longer concern themselves with some of the distant locations, thus making them uninhabitable. The series not only presents visually stunning and often extreme lifestyles found somewhere between heaven and earth, but also tells of the remnants of an ancient world that is soon to become part of the past."
The authors/directors and their respective episodes are as follows: Titus Faschina, (part 1) A Fairy-Tale Valley in the Carpathian Mountains; Carmen Butta and Anuschka Seifert, (part 2) A Monastery in the Pyrenees; Andreas Pichler, (part 3) A Mountain Farmer in South Tyrol; Nikos Dayandas and Stelios Apostolopoulos, (part 4) In the White Mountains of Crete; and Reinhard Kungel, (part 5) In the Hardangerfjord of Norway.

The only trailer to the series that we could find online is the super-mini arte spot above. Carles Mestres, however, the cinematographer of  Carmen Butta  and Anuschka Seifert’s A Monastery in the Pyrenees (part 2 of the series), put that entire episode online (non-embeddable  and in Italian) here.