Ana Torfs (°1963) lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Throughout her creative career, she has explored questions relating to perception, memory, representation and the construction of the image. She enables a topical and authentic perception of the scattered remains from our cultural and political history, from an early one-act play by Maurice Maeterlinck in The Intruder, to the Rorschach inkblot test in Incantations (Double Double). The multiple sources to which she refers are seen anew through the lens of the present. In the end, we only perceive echoes of the original materials: playful and poetic transpositions, generating displacements of meaning and interpretation. She is interested in the (colonial) 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 25 plants in Family Plot, a series of six loan words in TXT (Engine of Wandering Words), or the coloured histories behind 20 synthetic dyes in STAIN […]. The relation or tension between text and image plays a central role in her work, and with it all the related processes of visualization, interpretation, manipulation and translation. In her installations, she works with a range of media and materials including slide projections, sound, film, text, video, photography, textile, digital media, xerography, objects and prints.
Sometimes I think Ana Torfs is searching for the impossible, for the authentic image, for an image that does more than simply exist, but is. Ana Torfs is someone who wants to help things to go beyond their mere existence and become phenomena. She is a special kind of world observer. Wandering through a world of image excess, in her work she finds moments of halting and pausing. (Gabriele Mackert, ‘The World Observer’, 2006)
Her work suggests a labour-intensive remembering, an incarnated memory. (Dirk Lauwaert, ‘Reading as a form of writing’, 2004)
Her work has been presented in major solo exhibitions, including MUAC, Mexico City (2021), BOZAR, Brussels, (2020), Pori Art Museum (2017), Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, in Lisbon (2016), WIELS 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). She created a web project for Dia Art Foundation in New York in 2004. In 2005, Torfs was invited for the DAAD Artists-in-Residency Program in Berlin.
Her work has been included in various international art events including Bruges Triennial (2021), Contour Biennial 8 (2017), Parasophia in Kyoto (2015), 1st International Biennial of Cartagena de Indias (2014), Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013), Manifesta 9 Genk, Belgium (2012), Montreal Biennial 2 (2000), and Lyon Biennal 3 (1995).
Her work has also been included in group exhibitions in Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Australian Center for Contemporary art in Melbourne, Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro, National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Museion in Bolzano, Fotomuseum in Winterthur, and Mucsarnok Kunsthalle in Budapest, among other institutions.
Her works are part of various collections such as Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (ES), Frac Grand Large in Dunkirk (FR), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf (DE), Generali Foundation/Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (AT), Frac Lorraine in Metz (FR), Museum M in Leuven (BE), National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto (JP), Pori Art Museum (FI), S.M.A.K. in Ghent (BE), Mu.ZEE in Ostend (BE) and M HKA in Antwerp (BE).
awards, residencies, education, workshops etc.
Workshop Echo’s Fate, Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City
IASPIS, artist-in-residence, Stockholm (SE)
“Cera Partners in Art”, production award, Belgium
Cité des Arts, artist-in-residence, Paris (FR)
Figures/Projections, workshop at Schule für Kunstlerische Photographie, Vienna
Production-in-residence, Baltic Art Center, Visby (SE)
Artists-in-Residency Program, DAAD, Berlin (DE)
Prix de Recherche Michèle Fabien, SACD, Brussels (BE)
Cultural Award for Visual Arts, Flemish Authorities (BE)
Grand Prix, International Festival of New Film, Split (HR)
Prix du Jeune Créateur, 5th International Video Week, Centre pour l’Image Contemporaine Saint-Gervais, Geneva (CH)
“Lauréat de la Promotion François Vaxelaire”, Fondation belge de la vocation, Brussels (BE)
Master’s Degree: Film & Video, Sint-Lukas University College of Art & Design, Brussels (BE)
Master’s Degree: Communication Science, K.U. Leuven University, Leuven (BE)