Winners 2015 onwards


Rory McKenzie (VUW);  A translation stalemate: The Dark Horse in Italian (Best Essay)

New Zealand is by law a multilingual country with te reo Māori (in 1987) and NZ sign language (in 2006) being official languages, and English being a de-facto official language. These languages add to the richness and depth of New Zealand society, and subsequently our very well-regarded film industry where a number of films place Māori language and culture, as well as specific New Zealand-isms accessible only to those who are New Zealand English native speakers, to their forefronts. The Dark Horse is a highly successful New Zealand film that exemplifies both phenomena: within the film there is a strong multilingual and multicultural landscape where Māori language and cultural concepts, as well as specific New Zealand-isms co-exist within the one film. This essay analyses the commercial Italian subtitled version of The Dark Horse, highlighting specific translation choices made by the subtitler when attempting to deal with the aforementioned cultural and linguistic specificity that exists in the original content, as well as providing some possible improvements to these commercial subtitles. Alternative translations are proposed that, in my opinion, better reflect the source language and culture, drawing on the theories of subtitling, translating from multilingual and multicultural content and issues that arise when translating different registers. The purpose of this essay is not to criticise the existing subtitles, rather to show different means by which a translator can retain cultural-specificity and complexity despite the restrictions that are inherent to this form of multi-modal, inter-semiotic translation.

Valentina Maniacco (Griffith): Translating the allusions in Tito Maniacco’s Mestri di mont (2007) (Best Creative Work)

Who was Tito Maniacco? He was a poet, writer, essayist, historian, social critic and visual artist, who lived and worked his whole life in Friuli. He was an active member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and a municipal councillor in Udine, representing the PCI. He wrote on Pasolini, Anzil and Ceschia and brought Tina Modotti and Dario Fo to Udine. He created a substantial body of work, yet he is relatively unknown outside of Friuli. Currently, I am translating one of only two memoirs written by Maniacco called Mestri di mont (2007). It is the creative component of a PhD project I am undertaking. In this paper I will discuss one of the major challenges in translating this book – the allusions. There are many reasons why authors choose to incorporate allusions in their work. These include, but are not limited to: they add another layer of meaning, they evoke an image, they present the reader with the characters, books and events that are liked by and/or have influenced the author, and who thereby recommends them. Most of Maniacco’s work, whether poetry, prose or art, incorporates a multitude of allusions, Mestri di mont is no exception. Focussing on a couple of examples taken from the first chapter, I will discuss my approach to handling the allusions.

Nicole Townsend (UNSW): The ‘enemy other’: Identity and belonging within the Italian-Australian community during the Second World War. (Highly commended)

 In Sites of Convergence, Jo-Anne Duggan documented spaces she identified as being places of cultural and/or intellectual convergence, and argued that there are places and spaces which may be identified as sites at which different cultures interact and collaborate, the culmination of which is a greater understanding of the cultures or issues at hand.[1] Although Duggan’s sites are all examples of positive cultural and intellectual exchange, this is not always the case. Particularly in times of war, it is evident that when encounters occur between different groups of people between whom there is an imbalance of power, the outcome is often an uneven exchange that results in conflict. The Italian-Australian experience during the Second World War is an example of a period of convergence which resulted not in an even exchange, but rather culminated in the propagation of an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Influenced by ideas of identity, belonging, nationality and race within the wartime context of enemy and ally, as well as pre-existing racial and economic tensions, the clash between Italian-Australians and the wider Australian community resulted in a divergence within the Italian-Australian community and its sense of identity and belonging as Italian-Australians were forced to choose between their heritage and their adopted country. This essay examines how Italian-Australians negotiated their sense of belonging and identity in a wartime climate in which they were categorised as the enemy.


Monique Webber (Melbourne): “In search of Universal Icons”: Interrogating the Superstar Phenomenon of Early Modern Art through the Photography of Jo-Anne Duggan. 

Superstar culture occupies – and even dominates – contemporary engagement with art. As we queue to see the latest ‘blockbuster’ exhibit, or compete for the most highly valued works at auction, we become participants in a self-perpetuating adoration of the few. This phenomenon is often regarded as a symptom of the modern age. However, the photography and writing of Jo-Anne Duggan reveal that art’s superstar culture holds much earlier, and more complex, origins. Before the Museum (2000-2002), Impossible Gaze (2002-2005), and Wondrous Possessions (2010) reorient the contemporary gaze away from the hero works that so often absorb our viewing experience in Italy’s palazzi. In these photographs, we see the work of lost masters; the impact of time on their physicality; and in a manifestation of self-reflection, our own attitudes in the museum environment. Before the Museum (2000-2002), Impossible Gaze (2002-2005), and Wondrous Possessions (2010) highlight the interplay of theory, heritage, and market that has defined artistic identity as one “of universal icons” since antiquity. This paper reveals that Duggan’s oeuvre enacts an immersive laying bare of early modern Italian art, both as it existed in the past and its perpetuation into the present.

Laelie Greenwood (Monash):  Private Memory, Public Spaces: An Examination of Memory and Monument within Italian Immigrant Experience in Carlton.  (Highly commended)

Italian migrants left a lasting mark on the areas in which they established their communities in Australia, particularly during the 1960s-1970s. With a focus on Melbourne’s Carlton area and drawing from Jo-Anne Duggan and Enza Gandolfo’s (2011) article, ‘Other Spaces: migration, objects and archives’, this paper explores how Italian-Australians developed a distinctive architectural style in their home renovations, which acted to produce, and maintain, links with their ‘home’ country. Duggan and Gandolfo’s argument about Italian migrant possessions within the home interior informs a discussion about the alterations and additions of six of Carlton’s Italian-Australian urban façades. Such façades simultaneously reflect a private and public space. Indeed, the memorialisation of ‘private’ memory was inevitably transformed into a highly public projection of cultural identity and difference. This suggests how material transnationalism, the modern elements of which are apparent within these renovations, reflect the ‘host’ society in which Carlton’s Italians settled. The paper further examines the conscious expression of transnationalism in the Piazza Italia project as a form of public collaborative production, enabling new generations of Italian-Australians to experience a tangible sense of Italian culture.


Sally Grant (Sydney): The Eighteenth-Century Experience of the Veneto Country House: Andrea Urbani’s Decoration of Villa Vendramin Calergi’s Room of the Gardens.

The essay takes us through a profound analysis of the way images and words intersect historically through Andrea Urbani’s decorative ‘Room of the Gardens’ in the Villa Vendramin Calergi, Noventa Padovana, as part of an exploration of a neglected approach to the study of Veneto villa decoration. Engaging with Jo-Anne Duggan’s notion of “a peculiar act of doubling” and W. J. T. Mitchell’s theoretical writings on how the visual and the verbal interrelate, Grant offers an interpretation of how the eighteenth-century visitor experienced Urbani’s artwork upon entering the room. This essay draws together both contemporary and modern images and words to support a detailed study of the significance of the room’s playfulness and power to convey meanings over time.

Crystal Filep (Otago): Creative work and exegesis ‘Intersection Unbounded’. (Highly commended)

Crystal Filep’s original watercolour, Intersection Unbounded, and exegesis on Michelangelo’s Porta Pia and the Dioscuri represent a reflection on how the personal and the cultural, the historic and the contemporary, intersect within the context of a changing urban setting. Filep breaks with convention to explore her subject matter through imagination, focusing in particular on the ‘spaces in-between’. As such, her approach engages with what she calls ‘the mediative role of architecture’, aligned with Jo-Anne Duggan’s approach of “a slower, more considered engagement with art”. Filep shows how her creative practice conjures both meanings and questions as she teases out the interplay between imagination and stories from often overlooked spaces.

Kyra Giorgi (La Trobe): ‘La speranza: Spaces of hoping, waiting and dreaming in Italian migration. (Highly commended)

Kyra Giorgi conceptualises the experience of Italian migration to Australia in the post-war era as one that involves ‘negotiating spaces of absence and emptiness’ as opposed to a simplistic linear view. Her discussion finds resonance with Jo-Anne Duggan’s Sites of Convergence exhibition, wherein several public spaces evoke structures of expectation, engagement and even ‘chaos’. Giorgi takes Duggan’s insights further by contemplating ‘those more temporal sites of convergence’ inherent in the processes of migrancy. Citing oral migrant accounts, she considers circumstances of ‘not-knowing’ by evoking traditionally forgotten moments in ‘cabins and holding bays’, ‘hostels, processing and reception centres, and the countless queues’ – spaces of waiting and hoping, in which dreams and reality may converge.