Ana Laura López de la Torre (1969, Uruguay)
Artist and writer, lives and works in Montevideo, Uruguay.
My practice is community-based and concerned with the idea of the “common good”, both in terms of what is already common to people – what we are compelled to share, for example a public space – and of what else we might be able to share voluntarily through generosity, collaboration and exchange, by pooling resources and producing communal knowledge. Often using the overlooked and the underrated as a starting point, my work creates visible and unexpected connections between things, people and places. The work 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, I transited somehow accidentally towards conceptual art, seeking a happier marriage between art and political compromise. In 1997 I graduated with an MA in Critical Fine Art Practice from Central St Martins College of Art & Design. From 1995 to 2012 I lived in South London, where I developed a body of work enmeshed in the social and cultural life of Brixton, my place of residency and the nearby neighbourhoods of Peckham, Camberwell, Stockwell and Vauxhall. I like to think of myself as an “organic intellectual”, where my practice stems from the understanding of the local as a political context for aligning art production with community organising.
My 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. My work in Europe includes also projects at La Casa Encendida (Spain), de kunstbank (Belgium) and Demokratische Kunstwochen (Switzerland). The majority of my artistic production has been done in close collaboration with other artists, with community organisations and people from all walks of life. In parallel, I have worked as a University lecturer at the University of the Arts, London, specialising in performance and live art and in socially-oriented and political practices. In the same University I was co-founder of the postgraduate seminar The Practice Exchange, and SLAAG (Studying Latin American Art Group).
In 2012, after 22 years abroad, I returned with my daughter to live permanently in Uruguay. Currently I am completing doctoral studies at Chelsea College of Art & Design, thanks to a studentship from the University of the Arts, London. My research project Living together: The artist as a neighbour, studies the effects in the life of communities, of the activity of artists who chose to work in their own neighbourhoods of residency. The practical element of my doctoral thesis is Tulse Hill Diaries, an artist book that narrates two years of my life as a neighbour and artist in Tulse Hill Estate, a social housing estate in South London where I lived 16 years.
I currently work at UTU (Universidad del Trabajo del Uruguay), and I am also the Coordinator of the first Uruguayan postgraduate course in Cultural Management, at the Espacio Interdisciplinario of the Universidad de la República. When life allows it, I work together with other women on a project entitled Minando Montevideo. Throughout 2013 I developed a commission for the 9th Mercosur Biennale (Porto Alegre, Brasil), a work exploring the relationship of the people of Porto Alegre to water.