PEDRO TORRES, CATCHING A MOMENT IN TIME THROUGH ART

Time is an essential obsession for Pedro Torres. So much so, in fact, that this artist, allergic to being loyal to any kind of format has made a diagram of the usual concepts of his creations and time is there, right in the centre. In the heart of a creative corpus that deserves an interview.

Catching a moment in time has always been one of the main obsessions for writers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers… For art in general. After all, any artistic field does so by reproducing the greatest concerns of the human being but taking them to a sphere of sublime representation. In other words: artists are obsessed with time because it’s also something you’re most likely obsessed with. We can’t get away from it.

Within this framework, considering someone’s artistic work like Pedro Torres ’ must be a colossal and immeasurable task. For starters, because his creations usually surpass his own limits: Torres doesn’t show attachment to any kind of format and what he does is truly an explorative work in progress. Some of his creations seem to be diagrams or formulas that try to reveal the hidden side to time, and others are snapshots of an ever-fascinating moment. Sometimes syncretic. Commonly beautiful.

His latest project to date is going to be shown at SWAB , Barcelona’s contemporary art fair. It will be an interesting moment to try to catch a moment in time along with Pedro Torres. But, for now, we’re interviewing him to try and decipher the mystery that spans his vision on art.

You were born in Brazil but you currently live in Barcelona... What do you prefer from each place when it comes to art and inspiration?

I’ve been in Barcelona for a long time and, for me, Brazil represents caring relationships. However, I try to stay up to date with what is happening there at an artistic level because it is a very powerful scene, with many great artists. It is also a very inspiring place, given its dimensions and its variety of stimuli. Unfortunately, lately the news that we’re getting from there aren’t necessarily very encouraging, but I try to take away the positive side of things. Being here in Barcelona allows me to have a space, physically and mentally speaking, that is stable enough for me to develop the things I’m interested in.

Considering that you’ve been an independent curator, how do you see the art scene in Barcelona?

I’ve worked as a curator on certain projects and my starting point is perhaps more artistic. I always say that here we complain a bit about it, as we find the local art and curating scene to be quite small. But considering the size of the city and putting it into perspective with other contexts (for example, in Brazil there are many cities of the dimension of Barcelona that have very little culturally speaking), there is a lot of contemporary artistic activity. Perhaps there is always place for more and wider diversity, we’d all appreciate it.

Before going into detail of your own artistic coordinates, it’s particularly fascinating that you have made a diagram in which you graphically place all of the concepts that are explored in your work. Why did you feel the need to make something like this?

Precisely because of this, by the need to do it. By the need to understand what one is making along the years and putting a bit of order, mentally, structurally, conceptually and linguistically speaking. It hasn’t been easy. But, on the other hand, it’s been interesting and clarifying being able to do so. I also believe that it’s a reflection on how I understand things, what I do, how I do it. Artists are always asked to talk about our famous statement, and that is something that will (or might) change with practice over time. For me, it was like making a type of general mapping of my interests, intentions and processes. It’s not static and definitive. It also works as a gravitational centre sometimes, that concentrates the main focus and throws you inwards.

It’s also interesting that time is the centre of that diagram. What is it that attracts you to such a broad concept?

Exactly because of the fact that it’s such a broad concept, that it’s been addressed from many viewpoints: from physics (the classic and the quantic forms), philosophy, linguistic studies, history… Many fields of the human-social and physical- natural sciences. It is a concept that is directly linked to us as human beings and that has been changing over time, precisely with our own changes as organic, thinking and cosmological beings.

Aren’t you afraid of time as a concept that has no limits and that, in one way or a mother, you will never get to colonise in its totality?

I find it fascinating precisely because of this. It’s impossible to cover it completely. I think that it’s in its nature to deny that will. It escapes us, it slips through our fingers. And so, no matter where, from arts to scene, we try making approaches, attempts… They’re always partial, tangential, never in a totalitarian way. Time isn’t anything and it’s also everything. And, in my case, it’s not an isolated subject or concept but the cornerstone that links itself to many other things, that allows ramifications.

Memory is another great presence in your work. Why?

Memory is a temporary process, in the end. And it’s totally linked to the construction of reality, through different mechanisms, between which, language is very important. It’s also a scientific field that is very interesting nowadays, with neuroscience and its recent discoveries and historically it’s been linked to the world of images. For me, this is another world (immeasurable too), of images, that I’m really interested in. Everything, more or less, is linked: image, time, memory… I might not have realised before, but I sense many flaws in my memory and this might have precisely been the starting point.

When it comes to the material natures that appear in your diagram, it turns out that your work has experimented with multiple formats. Why is this changing constantly?

I haven’t had a specific training in the arts, in a particular discipline and I’m very curious, so I’m interested in trying different formats and I try to learn with each process. The final formats a lot of times comes from the project itself, that requires a certain type of formalisation. But each time I try to better understand the different mediums and I listen to the different material natures to see what they can offer, experimenting on possibilities. I’m not interested in everything, materially or technically speaking, but I’m aware of what provokes a certain resonance in me that could serve for something. So, in reality, it’s not a constant change, but rather the evidence of diversity.

Is there some kind of frontier (when it comes to the format or theme) that you haven’t explored yet and that you’d especially like to?

There are formats or techniques that I haven’t explored, but I never close myself off to these things, so you never know. It depends on what the ideas ask of me and how I want to develop themes. Performance isn’t something that I’ve technically worked on, even though at SWAB I’m presenting a proposal inside of the performance program. But it’s always caught my attention, inside my own interested and possibilities that I see. As I said before, I’m curious and I like learning, so I’d easily be interested in glass blowing as making a virtual reality piece. Those are two clues for the near future…

Staying away from the diagram, do you ever observe how people relate to your work? What is the usual reaction?

The moment you have more of a direct contact with the public is possibly in the inauguration. I’ve been lucky enough of having great feedback in general of my pieces and exhibitions. There are also critiques and inquiries, which is very interesting to confront your expectations. There are pieces of work that are made for the public, like something that is more interactive or participatory, and others are independent (in the purest sense of the word). When the pieces come into contact with the public, they are made available to the world, to an outsider’s gaze, that’s when a reaction is provoked. And here, each person must know what they look for with what they’re proposing (and also understand the freedom to interpret).

By the way, as I mentioned before, what are you bringing to SWAB?

With Dilalica , I present the keni and Dilation pieces, that were in our inauguration at our gallery. They will also have other pieces of a small format that have been derived methodologically from these two, incorporating other elements. They are small collages that I’m really interested in because they’re a visual summary of my own interests. On the other hand, I participate in the Swab Performance program, curated by Alexandra Laudo , with an audio walk called semi–luna—negra . It will be a tour inside and outside of the fair for a small group of participants, that will be blindfolded and they’ll listen to a series of soundtracks. A publication and a neon piece will go along the proposal.

What are you currently working on?

On top of SWAB, the following month I’ll participate in a collective exhibition in Madrid, at OTR. espacio de arte , with a new installation. In November I’m going to Santiago (Chile) for a curation I’m doing from LOOP’s video archive for the Centro Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo Cerrillos. When I come back, an exhibition that marks the start of the LOOP festival at Fabra i Coats will be inaugurated in which I’ll have two  video installations. I’m also working on the production of a new publication in collaboration with sone editors from Buenos Aires and I’m editing a new video.

  • Photos studio: Olivier Collet - Archive photos: Roberto Ruiz