Sujin Lee

A Kitchen Reading
HD Video, Color, Sound

The artist reads aloud a piece of text written in English and the artist's friend Sofya Melnichuck orally translates the reading into Russian on the spot. The reading was filmed at the communal kitchen of Artkommunalka*. The kitchen was the place where families in the communal apartment exchanged their ideas, arts, and samizdats during the Soviet era. Unlike other works by the artist, this video was made with an awareness that the work would go through a translation in the future (in this case, into Korean). There are multiple translations in the work: from written text to spoken words, from spoken to spoken words, from English to Russian, and finally from spoken words (English) to written text (Korean subtitles). The text that is read and translated in the video keeps referring back to itself by discussing these various translations and the corresponding processes.

*Artkommunaka is a museum and an artist residency located in Kolomna, Russia, and it is where a kommunalka (communal apartment from the Soviet era) and artifacts from the 60s have been "preserved." Artkommunalka present, re-present, and document histories of communities and individuals who (have) lived in the region through excursions, theatrical performances, and performances of everyday life. Narratives are mostly presented in the form of spoken words. There are artifacts and physical objects, but there is always a live person or persons to tell the stories behind these objects. When stories are delivered as spoken words, they strongly represent the mutual efforts of communication. Stories told at museums in Kolomna are often prepared from a script, but they are retold, reinvented, and even personalized for different audiences—constantly crossing over between speaking and “rewriting.”

A Kitchen Reading (excerpt) with Korean subtitles from Sujin Lee on Vimeo.

English Text by Sujin Lee
English to Russian Interpretation by Sofya Melnichuk
This project was supported by The museum residency “Artkommunalka. Erofeev and Others." 

© Sujin Lee