Translating Wittgenstein: into English, for artists, to speak now — A Conversation with Bettina Funcke and Paul Chan
December 7, 2020
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To celebrate the release of Word Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein, the first and only English translation of the influential philosopher's "dictionary" for elementary children, Printed Matter is pleased to host an online conversation between Bettina Funcke, the translator of Word Book, and Paul Chan, editor and publisher of Word Book. They will talk about the experience of translating Wittgenstein for English readers, the relationship that binds philosophy and contemporary art, and the enduring significance of artist books and publications in the age of digital media.
Bettina Funcke is an art historian based in New York City. She has taught and published widely, and most recently edited a book on the history of MoMA PS1. Funcke was Head of Publications for dOCUMENTA (13) and edited the 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts book series. Her book, Pop or Populus: Art between High and Low was published by Sternberg Press in 2008. She is also a co-founder of the publishing collective Continuous Project and of Leopard Press.
Paul Chan is an artist based in New York. He founded the independent press Badlands Unlimited (2010-2019). His exhibition "Drawings for Word Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein" is up at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York until December 19, 2020.
About Word Book
In 1925, Ludwig Wittgenstein, arguably one of the most influential philosophers in the 20th century, wrote Wörterbuch für Volksschulen (or Dictionary for Elementary Schools), a book to help children with spelling. Wittgenstein began teaching kids in rural Austria in 1920 after abandoning his life and work at Cambridge University. Dictionaries at the time were either too expensive or badly edited. So Wittgenstein wrote one for his poor young students. Word Book is the first ever English translation of Wörterbuch. Utterly singular and surprising, Word Book consists of words and concepts chosen by Wittgenstein as part of his curriculum. But it is also a revealing document of Wittgenstein’s own mind changing as a result of teaching and being with children. Word Book testifies to one of the greatest philosophers radically rethinking his own cherished ideas about art, culture, language and meaning, and in the process reinventing himself and his philosophy for new generations of students to come.
Hardcover with gold and black foil
English / German
112 pages, 12 B/W illustrations
8.125” x 5.5” (20.6cm x 13.97cm)
Distributed by D.A.P.