Argos is proud to present ANATOMY, a new installation by Belgian artist Ana Torfs. ANATOMY was shown first — last autumn — in daadgalerie Berlin, as the climax of Torfs’ artist-in-residency in the German capital.

Torfs’ recent work includes a web project, various slide projection installations, photo series, a feature film and several publications. The artist’s work defies categorisation in terms of a specific medium. Ana Torfs often deals with events and figures from Western cultural history. She opens new windows on events we think we know about and reveals them in a surprisingly topical light. Above all her fascinating work creates a strong visual experience. Still texts are often used as a starting point.

During her scholarship as a DAAD artist-in-residence in 2005/2006 Ana Torfs researched in Freiburg Military Archive on a trial held in May 1919, the “Case of the Murder of Dr. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg before the Military Field Tribunal of the Cavalry Guard Rifle Division in the Main Courtroom at the Berlin Criminal Court”. Ana Torfs pinpointed selected statements from this trial to compose “A Tragedy in Two Acts,” the literary script for her project. She it the ambiguous title ANATOMY. The artist chose 25 young Berlin actors to re-enact specific testimonies from the record of the proceedings, and filmed their performances on video. Torfs divided the case files into short scenes so that a story emerges in which details from the same events are told from different angles, highlighting the relative nature of the narrative: the last hour from the lifes of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, founders of the German communist party. The focus is on language — and of course language is never objective…

Another 17 actors of different ages, including well-known German actors Therese Affolter, Judith Engel, Stefan Lisewski and Matthias Matschke, posed for the artist for black-and-white slide photographs. Torfs chose to set the scene in the demonstration room of the Anatomical Theatre in Berlin, built from 1789-1790 by the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, whose most famous building is the Brandenburg Gate. The architecture of the theatre evokes an atmosphere somewhere between a stage, a Greek amphitheatre and a court of law, underlining the suggestive nature of the whole piece. The Anatomical Theatre is ideally suited to Torfs’ anatomy; the scene of so many dissections and analyses, it reflects various aspects of her own artistic process as she takes a scalpel to the historical texts. Her resulting analysis sharply reveals the hopelessness of the search for truth.

The result is an installation that interlinks big-screen slide projections with video images on two monitors. The actors on video recite the testimonies in German. Over wireless headphones the visitor hears an English version spoken by an interpreter — another language in two senses of the word. ANATOMY dissects both language and content.

Torfs’ book ANATOMY, published by DAAD, contains the text of the “Tragedy in Two Acts” and a text written by the artist. (64 pages, German and English).

ANA TORFS was born in Belgium in 1963. She lives and works in Brussels. She has gained international recognition with her participation in the following events and projects: Lyon Biennial (1995), Montreal Biennial (2000), ForwArt Biennial Brussels (2002), Approximations/Contradictions — a web project for the Dia Art Foundation New York (2004, Ana Torfs received the Flemish Community’s annual Visual Arts Award in 2005. Torfs made solo exhibitions in Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels, 2000), Roomade (Brussels, 2004), Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst GAK (Bremen, 2006), daadgalerie (Berlin, 2006). ANATOMY will later be on show in Württembergischen Kunstverein (Stuttgart, 17 May – 2 August 2007) and Sprengel Museum (Hannover, 2008). Torfs will also participate in group shows in Rotterdam (TENT, 25 January – 25 March 2007) and Berlin (Hamburger Bahnhof, 5 April – 5 August 2007).

ANATOMY was made with the support of the Flemish authorities.


Kassandra Nakas: Dissecting Life, On Ana Torfs’ Anatomy
22.02.07 // 20:30

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