Ana Torfs

BEL (1963). Lives and Works in Brussels.

TXT (Engine of Wandering Words), 2013
Jacquard tapestries (6)
Wool and cotton
275 × 325 cm each

TXT (Engine of Wandering Words) is a set of six tapestries, each made up of a collage of twenty-five squares. Each of these squares inset with engravings, oils, photographs, maps, flyers, or book pages, each from a different era. These are connected by lines and cranks, suggesting an array of cubes that could reveal new images by turning. It is a game of ellipsis, a strange device for producing visual tricks which encourage the viewer to think hard and get through its meaning.

She takes her inspiration from a Jean-Jacques Grandville engraving from 1838 that illustrates a French version of Gulliver’s Travels. In the novel, the main character visits the Academy of Lagado on the island of Balnibarbi, a scientific institution that has created a machine that, with each crank of the handle, produces a new combination of random phrases, setting forth a debate about words, the naming of things, and the futility of these endeavors.

Torfs uses multiple media in her installations: slides projections, sound, photography, film, engraving, fabrics, and silkscreen. The tension she creates between text/language and image—with all the related processes of visualization, interpretation, and translation—is fundamental to her work. With text and/or images as the starting point for her works, they transmit a perception of reality and authenticity from the scattered vestiges of our cultural and political history.