Babylon Poems

sound installation

Digital Art Center, Holon

In 1957, the Hungarian poet Regina Handke published “The New Anthology of Hungarian Poetry”. The book comprised 23 canonical poems of the Hungarian poetry translated from Hungarian back to Hungarian.

Handke, in an act that marked the beginning of the post-realism in Budapest, made use of 5 dictionaries (Hungarian- German, German -Russian, Russian-Polish, Polish- English and English-Hungarian) to translate in a literally way the poems through all those languages and to come back to the original language. The new translations were, in fact, poems that broke with their original poetics and meaning and owners of a new poetics, modernistic and critical at the same time.

In “Babylon Poems”, the sala-manca group decided to translate from Hebrew to Hebrew ten poems from the high school final exam content lists. The poems were translated with automatic-anonymous translation passing them through 14 different languages, by using the “Babylon” software. The new poems were read by Ilana Zuckerman, sound and radio artist, founder of the Metula Poetry Festival.