Marcela Torres

Theater of the Unexpected

Multi-platform: community organizing, performance, video and object

Theater of the Unexpected is an hour-long solo performance that uses the language of martial arts to contemplate the mental space of fear. This investigation combines the multifaceted nature of violence, how the want to defend slips into becoming the offender. This project attempts to locate a root problem of why we fight each other. Are there tangible solutions to solve the tension that make us hate and hurt one another? These questions are embodied in an immersive soundscape created through instrumental looped boxing bags played through punching, kicking combos. The performance will be in combination with a community engagement fitness workshop and a companion publication.

Artist Statement

Born, Salt Lake City, Utah
Resides, Chicago, Illinois

Recently I have been calling myself a “social strategist.” This is an umbrella term to describe how I  bring performance, objects, workshops, and sound installations into the world. I mobilize theory and practice to reconfigure social structures and improve our navigation of daily life. My work pairs alternative learning methods with martial arts–using this as a formal language–for the audience to witness a true representation of identity. I’m invested in depictions of identity that are sticky, hard to watch, have a price of entry, are a risk, have effects that hurt and ecstasies to be revealed. These messier configurations allow for complex and transcendent views on race, gender, ableism, and socio-economics in the United States.  The process of understanding long term effects of structural oppression is neither easy nor static. One image cannot represent the fullness of my brown body. Considering the limits of representation, my practice prioritizes time and feeling. It focuses time-based bonding with fluxes of pain and love through long term training or therapy. I also include community conversation to make the fluidity of personhood accessible and legible in a non-hierarchical fashion.

Marcela Torres is an artist, educator, programmer, and social strategist who uses performance, objects, workshops and sound installations in her work. Her work pairs alternative learning methods with martial arts–using this as a formal language–for the audience to witness a true representation of identity. Currently she works as a Community Engagement and Public Programs Manager at Gallery 400 at UIC, an Artist Guide at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a Teaching Artist with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education. She has a MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute Chicago and a  BA in Sculpture and BFA in Art History from the University of Utah.

marcelaetorres.com