In Translation

How much power does the interpreter have during an asylum seeker’s application for residence hearing? What influence does an interpreter have when politicians negotiate across the language barrier? These are questions Saskia Holmkvist explores in her latest films, now showing at Henie Onstad Art Centre.

The first film presents an interview with the interpreter Yassine Saeme and the asylum seeker Mohamed Aslaoul concerning an asylum hearing and the demands of interpreting for someone one does not know. An incorrect translation could have dramatic consequences; people like Aslaoui are fully dependent on the neutrality of the interpreter’s presentation.

In the second part, Holmkvist interviews Latvia’s former president Guntis Ulmanis and his interpreter of many years standing, Ieva Zauberga, who is now a senior interpreter in Brussels. In this case, the relationship between the interpreter and the person being interpreted is much closer and more direct.