Ana Torfs: Album/Tracks B

Ana Torfs: Album/Tracks B

Generali Foundation

Ana Torfs, “Displacement,” 2009
Photo by Ana Torfs

August 31, 2010

Ana Torfs
Album/Tracks B

3 September – 12 December 2010

September 2, 2010, 7 p.m.

Press conference: September 2, 2010, 10 a.m.

Generali Foundation
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 15
1040 Vienna, Austria
phone: +43 1 504 98 80
e-mail: foundation [​at​]
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun, public holidays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thu to 8 p.m.

ALBUM/TRACKS B may refer to a photo album which, empty at first, tells a “(hi)story” only once it is filled with pictures, a story to look at, read, and interpret from ever new points of view. The work of Ana Torfs (born in 1963, lives in Brussels) could also be understood as a tribute to certain personalities and events from history, literature, and film whose tracks— hence the title—and traces the artist pursues and endows with new life. Thus, Torfs frequently explores literary and historical material such as the Inquisition’s files on Joan of Arc (Du mentir-faux, 2000), the court records from the trial for the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (Anatomy, 2006), or Ludwig van Beethoven’s conversation books (Zyklus von Kleinigkeiten, 1998). To do so, Torfs has mainly relied on photography, slide installations, and, in the beginnings of her career, on video and film as her media. In 1998, after her hitherto only feature film Zyklus von Kleinigkeiten, the artist turned to and developed the more contemplative and focused form of slide installations besides her photographic work. The slide installation ideally lends itself to the emphasis and contemplation of a figure or historical event. It allows avoiding the static quality of photography while retaining its accuracy and benefitting from the monumentality of large film images and the use of sound. With bravura and precision, Torfs arranges image—mostly large close-ups of faces and places, restrained and hence paradoxically suggestive—and sound—sparse yet impressive text and music—into visually powerful, psychologically impregnated tableaux.

ALBUM/TRACKS A and B offer the first comprehensive survey of Torfs’ work, with the exhibitions at K21 in Düsseldorf and the Generali Foundation in Vienna complementing each other. While both venues present a selection of earlier works, though with a slightly different emphasis, the artist’s new photographic series Family Plot #1 and #2 as well as Legend are shown for the first time. Family Plot centers on the subject of Carl Linnaeus’ botanic nomenclature and explores the ramifications of the history of botany and colonization.

Legend links the meanings of the word “legend” as “myth” and “caption” with mythological narratives, historical facts of colonization, and contemporary refugee issues on the Canary Island of La Gomera. The new slide installation Displacement will be presented at both venues for the first time. The Swedish island of Gotland, which Ana Torfs first came to for a residency in 2007, inspired the artist to embark on a photographic remake of Roberto Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia from 1954.

Some of Ana Torfs’ works are also accompanied by publications displaying the careful attention to graphics and content that is found in her works. The books serve as an extension and commentary, a kind of exegesis by the artist herself, and yet stand for themselves. In Torfs’ publications, the text is heightened, as are language and voice in her installations, whether spoken or presented in the form of inserts. This brings on a theatrical mode which further deepens the reflexive dimension of the subjects represented and is owed to the use of an alienation effect as described by Bertolt Brecht: regarding theater as a theater of filtered and essentialized emotions and senses which are understood as social gestures.

Publication to the exhibition 
Ed. by Sabine Folie and Doris Krystof; texts by Mieke Bal, Sabine Folie, Anselm Franke, Michael Glasmeier, Steven Jacobs, Gabriele Mackert, Friedrich Meschede, Kassandra Nakas und Catherine Robberechts; interview with Ana Torfs by Gabriele Mackert. 
Design: Jurgen Persijn. Germ./Engl., 204 p., approx. 200 color- and b/w ill. 
Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg

Curator: Sabine Folie

Enquiries/Press office: Barbara Mahlknecht, +43 1 504 98 80-71114,

An exhibition organized by K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf and Generali Foundation, Vienna

Events accompanying the exhibition

September 3, 2010, 6 p.m. 

Ana Torfs, Zyklus von Kleinigkeiten, 1998

B, 35 mm, 86 min., s/w, Dt. mit engl.
Film screening with an introduction by Steven Jacobs, 
Art historian, Sint-Lukas Hochschule and KASK Gent

Filmcasino, Margaretenstr. 78, 1050 Vienna,

November 18, 2010, 6 p.m.
What is Truth? On the complications of personal judgement in the work of Ana Torfs

Lecture (English)
Getrud Sandqvist, Art historian, Malmö Art Academy, Lund

December 7, 2010, 7 p.m.

Lecture (English)
Mieke Bal, Cultural theorist, artist, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis

Generali Foundation

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August 31, 2010

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