Blog / 2022 / Friend Request in French

November 3, 2022

[video transcript]

If you’re wondering why I’m talking about how to translate my art into French, it’s because I’m French-American! Most of my site is bilingual—the flag buttons at the upper right allow you to toggle between languages—and, before COVID, I often showed my art or spoke in France and other francophone countries.

All the paintings are currently on display in Winifred Weiss’ studio window in Lambertville. There will be a reception this Saturday on the sidewalk in front of the window, with tea and homemade cookies!

Winifred’s studio window
17 Church Street
(at the intersection with George)
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Open: now through November 30th
Hours: whenever (you can look in from the street)
Reception: Saturday November 5th from 1p to 3p

corgi dog acrylic painting by pet artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on paper
6 x 4 inches

My new show isn’t called Friend Request in French. It’s called S’entrapprivoiser, a word that kind of means “to befriend each other,” but that’s also not totally translatable.

“S’entrapprivoiser” isn’t commonly used in French, but the second part of it, “apprivoiser,” is a word that every French child learns, because it appears in the book The Little Prince. When the main character meets the fox, the fox tells him that they cannot play together immediately, that the Prince must take the time to “apprivoise” the fox.

In the English version of the book, “apprivoiser” is translated as “tame” but that isn’t just a poor interpretation: it’s a reckless one. It leads every English reader of the book to believe that befriending is about taming, when that is the opposite of what “apprivoiser” is.

The fox does not want the Prince to do something to him. He wants the Prince to do something for him. The fox wants the Prince to demonstrate his interest and care over time, so that he can believe that the Prince is who he seems to be.

We are all simultaneously foxes and Little Princes, befriending each other slowly as we observe each others’ behavior. S’entrapprivoiser is really a better title for the show, but “befriending each other” doesn’t really have the same feel, so Friend Request is what the title became in English.

The show is up through November 30th on Church Street in Lambertville, New Jersey!

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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