Echo's Bones/Were Turned to Stone, 2020

Half in the dark, half illuminated by spotlights, lies a rug, which in hues of beige, brown and black evokes the idea of an open grave, a sarcophagus or a marble tombstone, or why not, a yoga mat. In the black center is a quotation from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, also the title of the work: Echo’s Bones / Were Turned to Stone.

This work is inspired by 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 offends the goddess Juno by keeping her in conversation, so preventing her from spying on one of Zeus’ 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.

Through headphones (while sitting or lying on the rug) or standing very close to small loudspeakers, one hears the voice of a female character, who seems to organize her thoughts into 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 such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Bresson, Lucia Joyce, Alexandre Dumas, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 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. Her countless 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?

Hand-knotted rug, wool and bamboo silk, 90 × 270 cm; sound piece, English spoken, headphones or loudspeakers, 210’, loop

Voice: Caroline Daish

Special thanks to Hanslal and Murari who have woven the rug

Produced by vzw NN with the support of the Flemish authorities