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an arrangement of passageways made up of doors with glass panes with three wooden chairs sitting between them installed in a gallery space

José Luis Torres: Temporary Territories

Curated by

Shauna McCabe

The constructions of José Luis Torres evoke the prolonged ambiguity and estrangement inherent in experiences of immigration and exile. Repurposing found materials, the Quebec-based Argentinian artist transforms spaces with large-scale installations that offer possibilities to both see and engage familiar objects in new ways. Collecting and recontextualizing objects of daily life, his DIY architectures point less to home than to informal settlements, where sedentary spaces of stability associated with belonging give way to nomadic spaces of risk and vulnerability. For Torres, this geography of temporary territories offers insight into deterritorialization – the deep transformation of everyday cultural experiences compelled by the dislocation and relocation associated with cross-border movement and migration at both local and global scales.

Integrating aged and discarded furniture – doors, windows, mirrors, and chairs – sourced within the community to preserve their association with local ways of life, Torres uses strategies of reconstruction and assimilation deeply familiar to im/migrants as they shape and are reshaped by new territories. The very simple gesture of “making do” that informs the construction of this built environment belies the profound precariousness of relationships to home, to identity, and to bearings produced by immigration, as well as the essentially ephemeral intersections of object and human biographies through time and change.

Image detail: José Luis Torres, Temporary Territories (installation view), 2023, found furniture

Circle Home Furniture Bank logo Restore Habitat for Humanity Guelph Wellington logo

Organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Partnership support from Circle Home Furniture Bank, an initiative of Danby Appliances, and ReStore, an initiative of Habitat for Humanity.

Installation Timelapse

a digital graphic showing a photo of José Luis Torres installing his exhibition Temporary Territories, with text that reads "José Luis Torres: Temporary Territories Installation Timelapse"
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About the artist

José Luis Torres

Born in Argentina, José Luis Torres has lived and worked in Quebec since 2003. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts, a Master’s degree in sculpture, as well as training in architecture and in the integration of arts into architecture. His works have been the subject of numerous individual and collective exhibitions in Quebec, Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. Recently, his works have been seen in various festivals and major cultural events, including the Festival international de jardins of the Jardins de Métis, the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine in Trois-Rivières, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, at the Symposium d’art contemporain in Baie-Saint-Paul, at the Art in the Open Festival in Charlottetown and at the Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier, France, as well as at international biennials in Europe and Asia. In 2019, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec awarded him the CALQ Prize – Work of the Year in Chaudière-Appalaches, and, in 2021, he was awarded the title of Personnalité Arts et Culture by the organization Culture Capitale-Nationale et Chaudière-Appalaches.

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