Ana Torfs

Ana Torfs

WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels

Ana Torfs, The Parrot & the Nightingale, a Phantasmagoria, 2014. Photo © Ana Torfs.

September 8, 2014

Ana Torfs: Echolalia
12 September–14 December 2014

Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354
1190 Brussels
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18h

T +32 (0) 2 340 00 53

Under the title Echolalia, Ana Torfs assembles a broad selection of the work that she has been developing since the early 1990s and shows now for the first time in her Brussels hometown. The exhibition offers a particularly exhaustive survey of her works from the last five years, which had mostly only been shown abroad, or had first been presented in a specific context—such as the former coal mine in Waterschei or the trading port in Sharjah. Echolalia also includes the major new installation, The Parrot & the Nightingale, a Phantasmagoria, which premieres at WIELS.

The English word echolalia refers to both the compulsive and the playful repetition of the same words. Taking it for her title, Torfs points to her interest in how meaning and knowledge are based on reproduction, repetition and translation. The relation or tension between text/language and image plays a central role in Torfs’s work, and with it all the related processes of representation, interpretation and translation. She questions a topical and authentic perception through the scattered remains of our cultural and political history. Existing texts and/or images are often used as a starting point for her works, whether it is the classic Rossellini film Journey to Italy, the Latin names of plants by Carl Linnaeus or a travel journal of Christopher Columbus. In her series of tapestries TXT (Engine of Wandering Words) an image machine generates multi-layered combinations and variations of one specific loanword, a word that over time remained the same in many different languages, along the routes of early trade and global exchanges. Meaning is reconfigured permanently in a random order.

An archaeology of knowledge is at the heart of Torfs’s artistic endeavour: how things get named and described so that you can grasp them, and how during their transmission new constellations of word, image and sound emerge. Early scientific explorations, exotic imageries, and the totalization of knowledge in the encyclopedia are revealed and their instrumental roles in the colonization of the world questioned. Torfs also questions a topical and authentic perception through the scattered remains of our cultural and political history. Her resulting work often reveals only faint echoes of the original source: playful transpositions and translations from language to image and vice versa, rendering displacements of meaning and interpretation. She does this through the use of a remarkably broad variety of reproducible media, ranging from sound, video, photographs and slide projections to prints, silkscreens and tapestries.

Ana Torfs was born in Mortsel, Belgium in 1963. She studied communication science at the University of Leuven (1981–86) and film & video at the Sint-Lukas University College of Art and Design in Brussels  (1986–90). She lives and works in Brussels.

Curated by Dirk Snauwaert

Complementary programme:
Look Who’s Talking: Dirk Snauwaert (FR/NL)
17 September, 19h

Lecture by Christophe Van Gerrewey on Echolalia (EN)
1 October, 19h

Look Who’s Talking: Catherine Robberechts (NL)
5 November, 19h

DUO film screening
Zyklus von Kleinigkeiten (Cycle of Trifles) by Ana Torfs (1998, 86 minutes) and Histoires d’Amérique by Chantal Akerman (1989, 92 minutes), preceded by a conversation between Ana Torfs and Niels Ruell at Cinematek, Brussels (FR/NL)
21 November, 19:30 & 22h

Look Who’s Talking: Michel Assenmaker (FR)
3 December, 19h

Symposium with Emiliano Battista, Juli Carson, and Ruth Noack, organized by Sint Lucas Antwerpen and supported by BAM (EN)
6 December, 15–18h

A richly illustrated publication, including essays by Emiliano Battista, Gabriele Mackert, Kassandra Nakas, Catherine Robberechts, Dirk Snauwaert, Ana Torfs, Christophe Van Gerrewey and published by WIELS in association with Koenig Books, London, accompanies the exhibition.

Soon at WIELS
Mark Leckey: Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials
26 September 2014–11 January 2015

Press contact
Micha Pycke
micha.pycke [​at​] / T +32 (0) 2 340 00 51 / M +32 (0) 486 680 070

Ana Torfs at WIELS, Brussels
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