TSMH project

This project is inspired from an English saying – ‘Wearing many hats’ – and a Japanese proverb – ‘Nisoku no Waraji wo haku’, ‘Wearing two pairs of Waraji (traditional straw sandals)’. The English saying ‘Wearing many hats’ means: having many responsibilities or roles. And the Japanese proverb ‘Nisoku no Waraji wo haku’, ‘Wearing two pairs of straw sandals’ means: the same person holds two kinds of professions. These expressions explain similar ideas by using different metaphors – hats or shoes.

Currently, we are in the process of collecting idiomatic expressions from different cultures, which share a similar meaning to the expressions we have chosen for the project – ‘to wear many hats’ or ‘to wear two pair of straw sandals’. This process is being documented in audio, video, and illustration. The TSMH Museum will display this research, assembled in video form, as well as sculptural installation of the two TSMH expressions. These exhibitive results aim to ‘explain’ the metaphorical expressions, literally and over-correctly. This over-correctness of a ‘direct translation’, this visible cultural ‘gap’, is the core of the Two Shoes Many Hats project.

Conceptually, this research also comments on itself because ‘two pair of straw sandals’ or ‘many hats’ are expressions that can be applied to both the artist and the museum of today. Artists not only know their own practices but engage with communities, in interactive events, and in many other roles associated with social practice. Likewise, museums of today are not only places of display but also involve community outreach and interactive exhibits. These multiple responsibilities are embodied in the expressions we have chosen for TSMH Museum, and those we continue to collect through our research.

Additionally, while in the Philippines, we will stage workshops, like museum educational workshops, for the public to realize accumulated local expressions in their own way. These ‘direct translations’ of select phrases will be playful object or drawing-based permutations, exploring the act of translation as an effort in and of itself.

Culturally, historically, to understand something ‘directly’ may not always be what is ‘intended’ or perhaps may not be possible at all. However, the persistence of a ‘direct translation’ can lead our reality to more imaginative and creative avenues for thought. Through events and workshops we, artists and community participants, will show that despite the historical, cultural or literary reasoning from which idioms derive, visuality – the visual image conjured in the mind – plays an integral, albeit sometimes ridiculous, role in memorizing proverbs and in giving entry into learning more about them culturally. TSMH points to this act of translation, and more specifically, to the act of trying to translate.



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