Ana Laura López de la Torre
Ana Laura López de la Torre (1969, Montevideo). Artist, writer, educator. Lives and works in Montevideo, Uruguay.
López de la Torre’s practice is community-based and involved with ideas of the “common good”, both in terms of what is already common to people—for example, public space that we are compelled to share—and what we share voluntarily through generosity, collaboration and exchange, pooling our resources to produce communal knowledge. Often using the overlooked and the underrated as a starting point, her work creates visible and unexpected connections between things, people and places. It unfolds slowly in time and space, and brings together disparate constituencies with a similar interest despite often conflicting agendas, through participatory and collaborative processes.
After training as a woodcarver and working in a religious sculpture workshop in Madrid during the 1990s, López de la Torre transited somehow accidentally towards conceptual art, seeking a happier marriage between art and political compromise. In 1997 she graduated with an MA in Critical Fine Art Practice from Central St. Martins College of Art & Design. From 1995 to 2012 she lived in South London, where she developed a body of work enmeshed in the social and cultural life of her neighborhood of Brixton, as well as the nearby neighborhoods of Peckham, Camberwell, Stockwell and Vauxhall. She likes to think of herself as an “organic intellectual”, where her practice stems from the understanding of the local as a political context for aligning art production with community organizing.
Her commission record in the UK includes works and projects for the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art),Whitechapel Gallery, Arts & Business, Gasworks, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the South London Gallery. Her work in Europe includes also projects at La Casa Encendida (Spain), de kunstbank (Belgium) and Demokratische Kunstwochen (Switzerland). The majority of her artistic production has been done in close collaboration with other artists, with community organizations and people from all walks of life.
In parallel, she has worked as a University lecturer at the University of the Arts, London, specializing in performance and live art and in socially-oriented and political practices. In the same University she was co-founder of the postgraduate seminar The Practice Exchange, and SLAAG (Studying Latin American Art Group).
In 2012, after 22 years abroad, López de la Torre returned with her daughter to live permanently in Uruguay. She is currently completing doctoral studies at Chelsea College of Art & Design, thanks to a studentship from the University of the Arts, London. Her research project Living together: The artist as a neighbor, studies the practices of artists who have chosen to work in their own neighborhoods. The practical element of her doctoral thesis is Tulse Hill Diaries, an artist’s book that narrates two years of her life as a neighbor and artist in Tulse Hill Estate, a social housing estate in South London where she spent 16 years.
López de la Torre currently works at UTU (Universidad del Trabajo del Uruguay), and is the Coordinator of the first Uruguayan postgraduate course in Cultural Management, at the Espacio Interdisciplinario of the Universidad de la República. She lectures at the BA in Audiovisual Engineering of the Universidad Católica del Uruguay. In 2013 she was invited to participate in the 9na Bienal del Mercosur (Porto Alegre, Brasil), with a project tracking the relationship of people in Porto Alegre to issues of property, use and care of water.
Under the title of “Democracy: 30 years and after”, López de la Torre has collaborated with individuals and organizations to explore Uruguay’s last 30 years of post-dictatorship democracy and to think about the democracy’s imaginable futures.