José Luis Torres: Question d’adaptation

If my mother’s basement exploded, it would look like Torres’s new exhibition at the Koffler Gallery. Hoarding seems to be a common pattern among immigrant mothers, especially Asian ones. Everything and anything might be useful someday so why throw anything out? It took my father 20 trips to the garbage disposal in our old Toyota to clean out that basement, seemingly disposing of our history, past, and memories. But what good is a memorabilia if it’s stored away, instead of remembered about?

José Luis Torres, Question d’adaptation (Koffler Gallery installation detail), 2018. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

As per the title Question d’adaptation, we are invited to not only think about our experiences of adaptation, but actively experience adaptation at the exhibition. We are made to crouch down, climb, and walk through openings that are too small. The act of straightening your spine to witness what’s upon the other side is a significant one, forcing us to quickly adapt to different perspectives and surroundings.

José Luis Torres, Question d’adaptation (Koffler Gallery installation detail), 2018. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

We constantly have to adjust ourselves in this space, like a chameleon. The red hallway at the back of the exhibition turns us into a shade of red and prompts us to squeeze through a small opening in order to reach the other side. The blind attached to one of the entrances are almost shut, having to rub against the wall in order to pass without disturbing the blinds. The askew wooden structure across from the red hallway not only turns us into a hue of yellow, but also leads us back to the wall of old mirrors by the entrance, where we are confronted with distorted versions of ourselves. Mirror before entering and after – to show us the transformations we went through.

 

José Luis Torres, Question d’adaptation (Koffler Gallery installation detail), 2018. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Countering the dislocating and distorting effects of the crude, bona fide indoor playground, are maps. Among the first items to be seen is a world map, with Canada in the centre of the map. Through the the wooden passageway underneath the explosion of furnitures, is another map, featuring just Canada this time. We’ve migrated.

José Luis Torres, Question d’adaptation (Koffler Gallery installation detail), 2018. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Just like the exhibition, maybe our immigrant mothers were attempting to resist the pressures of assimilation and hold onto the past pieces of their identity. Passageways become increasingly inconvenient to comfortably pass through, and the amount of ‘stuff’ carried through the spaces become less and less, until we have seemingly come back to the same place, but it all looks different now, and so do we.

José Luis Torres, Question d’adaptation (Koffler Gallery installation detail), 2018. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Sunny Kim

Images are courtesy of Koffler Gallery

*Exhibition information: June 21 – August 26, 2018, Koffler Gallery, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tues – Fri 12 – 6 pm, Sat & Sun 11 am – 5 pm.

1 comment for “José Luis Torres: Question d’adaptation

  1. Pamela Erickson
    August 10, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Interesting concept. Rings true and not just for immigrants

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *