Echo's Bones/Were Turned to Stone, 2020
In Echo’s Bones/Were Turned to Stone you lie with headphones on a hand-knotted rug designed by the artist. Through headphones, one hears the voice of a female character, who appears to be organizing her thoughts through an anaphoric chain of endless associations, references and facts. A collage of short anecdotes about the lives and deaths of artists, writers, actors, singers, artist’s models, film directors and composers that Ana Torfs is fascinated by, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Bresson, Lucia Joyce, Alexandre Dumas, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Berthe Morisot, Erik Satie, Delphine Seyrig, Ovid, Mary Wollstonecraft, Isamu Noguchi, Lina Bo Bardi, Honoré de Balzac, Hilma af Klint, Edgar Allan Poe, Billie Holiday, and numerous others. These countless, ghostly enumerations alternate with sighs and groans, which then turn into factual descriptions of the functioning of the human body or the condition of the planet. Seemingly unconnected stories begin to form patterns. As long as she speaks, she exists. Or, against death, what consolation, if any, is art?
This work is inspired by Ana Torfs’ deep interest in the process of reading and writing. In Greek mythology, as related in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Echo is a loquacious mountain nymph. She offended the goddess Juno by keeping her in conversation, so preventing her from spying on Jupiter’s lovers. Juno punishes Echo by depriving her of speech, so that she can only repeat what others say. Lonely and abandoned, she dies in a cave. Her bones turn to stone, but her voice lives on and doubles every sound.