17.11.23, 19:00

Decolonial (re)mediators feat. Laura Emsley: Intersemiotic undertranslation


This event will be moderated by María Angélica Madero and Santiago Pinyol, in collaboration with Laura Emsley. Intersemiotic translation or transmutation is an interpretation of verbal signs from nonverbal sign systems. To think about caves is already an act of translation—cultural, temporal and spatial. At the core of this event there will be an exploration of the concept of the mind as an underground cave. Drawing inspiration from ancient times, the spirit of the Palaeolithic will be invoked with its various forms of abstraction, ranging from visual representations to internal struggles, from rationality to the depths of the unconscious. Participants in this workshop will be encouraged to engage in speculation, interpretation, and create their own abstractions.

RADIUS is a particular subterranean space. A place for art without windows, or any natural light coming in. In many ways it resembles a root cellar, a storage location that uses the natural cooling, insulating, and humidifying properties of the Earth. These intimate conditions, away from radiation, dark, are great for fermenting, not only food but perhaps also ideas and attitudes. As part of their participation in the exhibition RADICAL SYMBIOSIS: THE SOCIAL LIFE OF MICROBES, Escuela de Garaje is organising a series of events intrinsic to their curriculum and in conversation with the exhibition. This version of the garage school takes the form of an underground speakeasy, a place where they have been fermenting and distilling different wines and spirits, such as honey wine made with raw honey harvested in Delft, foraged black berry moonshine or malt wine. Every Friday until the closure of the exhibition, Escuela de Garaje will host different collectives and collaborators for a two-hour happy-hour in their fermenting bar in the exhibition space. For this iteration of the school, they adopt the “underground”, in terms of the architectural aspects of RADIUS, but also metaphorically in connection to the invisible, the unseen, the illegal, or the informal. The curriculum of the school is made up of some long-term collaborators of Escuela de Garaje, all of them working one way or another with the underground. The collectives will host a happy-hour in the bar, after RADIUS closes to the public, from 17:00 – 19:00.


To think about caves is already an act of translation—cultural, temporal, and spatial.
In the last session of the underground school, we went on a profound exploration of imagery. Guided by the concept of the mind as an underground cave, we delved into the deep subconscious. And drawing inspiration from the ancient Paleolithic era, we tapped into the collective memory of humanity, from a bottle neck moment in history when there where no more than hundreds of us.
First, in the darkness we sang, allowing our voices to echo through the cavernous chambers of our minds. As we closed our eyes and opened them to the oldest known abstract rock drawing. The abstractions became more than just symbols on a surface, transcending the boundaries of language and logic. In trying to undertranslate we were moved to gesture, to explore the liminal space between symbol and plane.
After that, more images from Laura’s extensive archive flickered before our eyes—caves, abstractions, and footprints of those who came before us. We experienced the transformative nature of intersemiotic translation: a the bridge that connects worlds, to communicate across different realms of expression.
With the final toast, we raised our glasses filled with tincture and dropped them onto the canvas, creating a Decalcomania—a tapestry of undertranslations, a celebration of our collective journey. 
Immense gratitude to María Angélica and Laura for crossing the channel to share so much with us.

* Intersemiotic translation or transmutation is an interpretation of verbal signs from nonverbal sign systems.


Is it possible to translate signs from deep human time? Traditional approaches say no because early people had lives and cultures so utterly different to ours. But we say yes let’s try!

While it is important to acknowledge and respect differences created by cultures and histories we can still value and connect with what we have in common. I believe it is possible to feel affinity and empathy with our ancient ancestors. The images and signs they inscribed into the earth created a new technology for extending themselves in time. They call to us now.

I would like to thank Intersemiotic under_ translation for opening up a rich and expansive portal of communication and to the Underground Garage School for such hospitality, generosity and experimental approach to loosening the mind, making it possible to activate a conduit to the early stages in the wiring of our collective un/conscious. Also, to those who participated and took the journey together to party and come together with the others from deep time.