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Daadgalerie Presents Anatomy
Ana Torfs, Anatomy, 2006. © Ana Torfs.

BERLIN, GERMANY.- The daadgalerie presents Anatomy, a new installation by Belgian artist Ana Torfs (born 1963), starting from 23 September 2006. Ana Torfs often deals with events and historic figures from Western cultural history. She opens new windows on events we think we know about and reveals them in a surprisingly topical light. In her work she focuses, among others, on the relationship between text and image, reading and visualization.

During her scholarship as a DAAD artist-in-residence in 2005 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 gave the project 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. Another 17 actors of different ages, including Therese Affolter, Judith Engel, Stefan Lisewski and Matthias Matschke, posed for the artist for black-and-white slide photographs. She 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 result is an installation that interlinks big-screen slide projections with video images on two monitors. The actors 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.

The absurd show trial of Luxemburg and Liebknecht's murderers includes a considerable amount of harrowing detail on how the murders were actually committed. The video recordings show a kind of slow process of dying, told from the perspectives of 25 different witnesses and defendants. The case files have been divided up into short scenes so that a story emerges in which details from the same event are told from different angles, highlighting the relative nature of the narrative. The focus is on language - particularly the way language reveals so much about a nation, a people and the context of events. And of course language is never objective.

The slide projections in Torfs' ANATOMY provide an abstract visual counterpoint to the video images. 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.

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