ana torfs

Du mentir-faux, 2000

installation view, Fotomuseum, Winterthur, 2007

What strikes me about a trial is the deluge of words around a silence. 'Did this woman kill her husband?' For days the truth is sought, while the woman knows it and allows herself to be entrapped, attacked and defended. Every work of art is conceived like this, around a silence - a silence which knows but which keeps the secret for the sake of the lie it fears, that turns it inside out, depriving it of its support.
(Georges Perros, ‘Papiers collés,’ 1960)

DU MENTIR-FAUX consists of an installation with slide projections and a book. The slide projections show a long series of black and white portraits. An extremely sober composition: a series of portraits of a young woman, quiet, without attributes. Her face conveys suffering. The acting, the pose were reduced to their essence, as if inviting the spectator to decipher the code. From time to time, the series is interspersed with texts containing questions. Something in the young woman’s pose, style and hairdo sparks a feeling that is confirmed when we glance in the accompanying book: we’re looking at a portrait of Joan of Arc - a theme to which Ana Torfs had already devoted a short video in 1988. The questions, so tormenting the protagonist, turn out to be quotations from the reports of the inquisition trial carried out against her in the 15th century.

The book, with an introductory essay by Dirk Lauwaert, comprises, apart from a selection by Torfs from these trial reports, an autobiographical text by her own hand, in which she bears witness of her fascination for the figure of Joan of Arc: not as the political or national symbol, but rather as the all too physical, self-willed yet ultimately defenceless victim of an all powerful system. The title DU MENTIR-FAUX (About Lying Falsehood) is not a quote, but it alludes to the tautological style of medieval texts which is so alienating to the contemporary reader; Jeanne d'Arc’s prosecutors kept making use of notions like ‘fiction mensongère’ (mendacious fiction) or ‘feindre mensongèrement’ (mendaciously pretending). DU MENTIR-FAUX can also be understood as a reference to the impossibility, in spite of all the testimonials and documents, of getting at the truth, or in a broader sense to the insoluble tension between fiction (constructing, pretending, lying…) and genuine reality.

(Catherine Robberechts, press text Palais des Beaux-Arts, 2000)

installation with black and white slide projections, projection socle, +/- 20 minutes, loop, digitally controlled, variable dimensions, text slides available in English or French
artist’s book on reading stand/table in French/Dutch/English

actress appearing in slide photographs
Dominique Licoppe