Artist
Elvira Santamaría-Torres

© Elvira Santamaría-Torres, Salt Cartographies, 2018. 7a11d International Festival of Performance Art. Photo Henry Chan.

b. 1967, Mexico/ Ireland
elvirasantamariatorres.co.uk

Elvira Santamaría-Torres completed a Masters’s degree in Visual Arts at the University of Ulster in Belfast. Her work focuses on public actions, process art, installation and performance. She is currently based in both Northern Ireland and Mexico.

In 1994, Santamaría-Torres obtained the First award of the 3rd X-Teresa, The Month of Performance Art and in the same year was invited to participate in the Rencontre Internationale d’art performance de Québec. Since then, she has presented her work in festivals, art centres, galleries, museums and public spaces in Mexico, Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America. Her most recent public projects include Parábolas de Desalojo y Procesos de Regeneración, 2013-2016 (Mexico and various Latin American countries); Salt Cartographies in MACO (Oaxaca, Mexico, 2015), Sur Gallery (Toronto, 2018) and Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast, 2022).

In 2013, Santamaría-Torres was postulated to the Artraker, Awarding Creativity in Art and Conflict in London and was part of the juror for the 2014 award. She is a member of Black Market International, a performance art group. She has organised several events such as the annual International Performance Art Encounter in Yucatán, 2002-2006; InterSER0 I |& II, International Action Art Encounter at the Carrillo Gil Art Museum, 2009, and Humanism in process: Female Performance Artist at Work 1 & 2, 2019.

Santamaría-Torres conducts workshops and conferences in art centres, universities and museums in Mexico and abroad. She is an actual Member of the National System of Art Creators FONCA–Secretaria de Cultura and Flax Art Studios in Belfast.

DOCUDRAMA with Elvira Santamaría-Torres

In conjunction with FADO’s on-going International Visiting Artist series, we invite local performance artists to participate in a new networking initiative. This is a chance for you to come meet international visiting artists in person, and talk to them (and a few of your local colleagues) about your work. To this end, FADO proposes DOCUDRAMA, an informal evening where up to 10 local artists can meet to talk about their work and show up to 10 minutes of documentation. Space is limited and we want to keep the sessions limited, therefore participants must reserve their spot in advance.

In this DOCUDRAMA, local artists are invited to present short talks about their work in the presence of Mexican artist and organizer Elvira Santamaria, who presented her work as part of the IDea Series.

Performance
Everyday life words in progress by Elvira Santamaría Torres

FADO is proud to introduce Toronto audiences to the work of renowned Mexican artist Elvira Santamaría Torres, who creates a new piece in-situ, working with the concept of “everyday life words in progress.” This project is presented in the context of FADO’s on-going IDea series.

For this project, Santamaría Torres begins with the minimal idea of installing herself in a Toronto window front space and responding to the words found in two different Toronto newspapers each day. Engaged in a sensitive process of daily response Santamaría Torres created a progressive series of actions, images and objects that speak to immediate conditions. The performance could be viewed from the street, or one could enter the space and interact with her. Starting with an 18-hour day, the performance became progressively shorter each day until the final 2-hour action on the last day.

Santamaría Torres writes of her way of working: “I am interested in instant creation. I think that the need for real human communication demands freedom and spontaneity, far away from seeking determinate answers. Action artists are inventing new relationships among others and at the same time they are discovering and reinventing themselves.” (Source: New Moves International)

March 16 @ 6:00am–midnight
March 17 @ 6:00am–10:00pm
March 18 @ 6:00am–8:00pm
March 19 @ 6:00am–6:00pm
March 20 @ 7:00am–5:00pm
March 21 @ 9:00am–5:00pm
March 22 @ 11:00am–5:00pm
March 23 @ 1:00pm–5:00pm
March 24 @ 3:00pm–5:00pm

© Elvira Santamaría Torres, Everyday life words in progress, 2007. Photo Miklos Legrady.

Series
IDea

Curatorial Statement by Paul Couillard

Issues of identity are at the centre of IDea, FADO’s multi-year international performance art series. Chris Barker writes that cultural politics are about “the power to name; the power to represent common sense; the power to create ‘official versions’; and the power to represent the legitimate social world.” These powers speak to identity in a territorial, institutionalized framework, but performance practices offer the possibility of turning their presumed weaknesses—contingency, ephemerality and aterritoriality—into strengths, by offering a potentially decolonized, non-institutional forum.

The concept of identity has been at the forefront of art discourse since the 1980s. Performance artists have been particularly concerned with how our various identities are constructed, how they mark us and how they influence self-understanding. At the same time, artists have also used performance tactics to problematize and transform their identities. In recent years, the debate has shifted to examine identity issues in subtler, less didactic ways, using the territory of identity as a ground for complex and often ambivalent readings of subjectivity, hybridity and representation. IDea draws from this growing body of work.

The series considers a broad range of identity labels, including gender, skin colour, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical appearance, familial role, economic status, political affiliation and profession, to name a few of the more obvious possibilities. In blunt terms, the series will circulate around an underlying set of interrelated questions. How do we accept or resist these multiple identities? Which do we choose to embrace, and why? What identity labels are misleading, unhelpful or irrelevant, and in what ways? How do these labels intersect with one another? How do they determine the nature and quality of our lives? How do they contribute to a sense of belonging or alienation?

While these questions inform the series, they are only a contextualizing lens, not a prescription for how individual projects should or will be structured. IDea is not about representation, or the politics of difference, which is to say that the intention is not to assemble a collection that presents one of each kind. We are not encouraging strident political statements (though there is certainly room for them), but rather, featuring works that reveal something about how the creators understand and situate themselves. Along the way, we also hope to track how artists use performance tactics to circumvent prescribed attitudes and behaviours around identity.

IDea seeks to consider a range of bodily identities—physical, social, political, emotional, and spiritual. To provide further context for the series, commissioned critical that respond to each of the performances. These texts will come from an interdisciplinary variety of thinkers in the realms of philosophy, religion, politics and science.


The IDea series presented 12 performance projects between 2005–2007, and was curated by Paul Couillard.

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum