Art Translation Project: COCOON

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Listen: Radio France International interview with Kate Browne [in English]

Translingua transcribed and translated 8 interviews and a few written testimonies from French into English for COCOON, a public space sculpture by Kate Browne. COCOON is a series of public space sculptures Kate Browne is building at sites around the world that have traumatic histories and conflicting narratives. In all locations she collaborates with local people who, in addition to building the large COCOON, also create a little Cocoon or symbolic object from the everyday things that they might find in their purse or pocket. She interviews and records each participant about what their cocoon represents. Their recorded testimony is heard inside the finished sculpture. Each participant poses for a portrait with their individual cocoon. For more details visit her website.

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The interviews and testimonies that Translingua worked on came from COCOON participants who live and/or work in the Goutte d’Or neighborhood in Paris. They are immigrants or descendants from immigrant families mainly originating from North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) or West African nations.

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Unfortunately, the neighborhood has a bad reputation and is often depicted as “dangerous,” by politicians and media alike. But behind this façade that has been built up by outsiders and perpetuated for their own political and economic gains, there is a vibrant and rich international community. Kate speaks with people from all walks of life, for example: a young man who grew up in a family from Mali – a total of 8 people living in a tight one-room apartment -, getting his education in the street; a West African grocery store owner who adjusts her prices according to the shoppers’ needs; and a representative of la Table Ouverte, a community café where the elderly of the neighborhood have access to healthy meals no matter what they can afford to pay. They all talk about their origins, the hardships their families had to overcome, the neighborhood, its history, demographics and how it has changed over the years, their lives in the neighborhood today and their hopes and aspirations for the future. At the end of each interview, they talk about their involvement in the COCOON public space sculpture project, what their contribution symbolizes and how it is connected to them and their neighborhood.

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For the Translingua team of transcribers, translators and proofreaders, the COCOON project was a very rewarding experience, because it reflects our mission which is to build bridges between different cultures, communities and people by helping them communicate with each other. We are proud to have been a part of the COCOON project focusing on the Goutte d’Or neighborhood in Paris, France. Thank you, Kate, for involving us. We will continue to follow you and all your projects and wish you all the best!

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