Artist Francesc Torres was born in Barcelona but has spent the majority of his career working outside in Paris, Berlin, and New York. In his installation Belchite/South Bronx: A Trans-Cultural and Trans-Historical Landscape he videotaped the abandoned village of Belchite, Spain, which was destroyed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. He also videotaped the South Bronx, which similarly had suffered from outbursts of violence. The camerawork emphasizes the visual unity of the two locations until they are almost indistinguishable, creating a meditation on history, violence, and modern ruins.
In 2004, Torres joined forces with a forensic anthropology team as they uncovered a mass grave where forty-six supporters of Spain's Republican government were killed in the village of Villamayor de los Monte on the night of September 14, 1936. Torres photographed the work of the forensics team, as well as the participation of local townspeople who became involved in the project. As it does in this small village outside of Burgos, in northern Spain, the violent history and legacy of the Spanish Civil War remains buried throughout the country, in both metaphorical and concrete ways.Torres has created an installation, Dark Is the Room Where We Sleep, of black-and-white photographs from this documentation, which was shown at ICP and the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona in 2008.
Torres was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to photograph the World Trade Center debris housed in Hanger 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. In keeping with his long-standing interest in questions of human memory and meaning, Torres’ work focuses on the belief that it is through the remains of history that memory remains. This work was presented at ICP in 2011.
His work has also been displayed at museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
Mary O'Donnell Hulme