For her first solo exhibition in Portugal, Belgian visual artist Ana Torfs brings together four installations under the equivocal title Echolalia. The English term ‘echolalia’ refers to the repetition of speech (parroting) by a child learning to talk, but it also describes a medical condition that makes someone compulsively repeat words and sentences said by other people.
Since the early 1990s, Ana Torfs has been composing a unique, visually striking oeuvre, which is marked by the worlds unfolded by words, whether it is the travel diary of Christopher Columbus (in The Parrot & the Nightingale, a Phantasmagoria,) the official Latin names of twenty-five plants (in Family Plot), a series of six loanwords (in TXT, Engine of Wandering Words), or the common names of twenty synthetic dyes (in […] STAIN […]).
The exhibition title, Echolalia, hints at the connections that resound between the exhibited works. Moreover, the range of reproducible media that Torfs turns to, ranging from sound, video, photographs, and slide projections to silk-screen prints and tapestries, is remarkably broad. In the end we only perceive echoes of the original source: playful and poetic transpositions and translations from language or text to image and vice versa, rendering displacements of meaning and interpretation.
In her work Ana Torfs analytically and metaphorically addresses fundamental questions of representation and its narrative structures. In the installations that make up Echolalia, an archaeology of knowledge plays a crucial role: how things are named and described so that you can get hold of them, and how during their transmission new constellations of word, image and sound arise all the time.
Matters and materials handed down from the past, which Torfs draws on in her erudite quest, are rendered meaningful over and again in a never-ending attempt to grasp the complexity of things – in the course of which any system or order is ultimately revealed to be an illusion.
Ana Torfs (b. 1963, lives and works in Brussels) has participated in numerous important group exhibitions including Parasophia, Kyoto (2015), Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013), Manifesta 9 Genk, Belgium (2012), Montreal Biennial 2 (2000), and Lyon Biennal 3 (1995). Solo exhibitions include WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels (2014) Generali Foundation in Vienna (2010), K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf (2010), Sprengel Museum in Hannover (2008), argos centre for art and media in Brussels (2007), daadgalerie, Berlin (2006), GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst in Bremen (2006), and Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels (2000).
Ana Torfs: Echolalia is organized in collaboration with WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels. Curated by Caroline Dumalin.