Francis Alÿs

Llyn Foulke

dOCUMENTA (13), 2012

06.09.2012 – 09.16.2012

Questions of personal and collective emancipation through art emerge in the process of making dOCUMENTA (13) by thinking through a number of composite ontologies that generate paradoxical conditions of contemporary life and artistic production.

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Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception

May 8–August 1, 2011
Sixth floor

Francis Alÿs uses poetic and allegorical methods to address political and social realities, such as national borders, localism and globalism, areas of conflict and community, and the benefits and detriments of progress.

Alÿs’s personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, Alÿs has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography.

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29th São Paulo Biennial 2010

São Paulo, Brazil : 25 September – 12 December 2010
Official Website:
Title: Há sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar (There is always a cup of sea to sail in)

The title “There is always a cup of sea to sail in” was inspired by a line by the poet Jorge de Lima (1895 – 1953) in his work Invenção de Orfeu (1952). The concept of this year’s São Paulo Biennial is based on the notion that it is impossible to separate art from politics. Art, through ways of its own, is “capable of blocking the sensorial coordinates through which we understand and inhabit the world by bringing into it themes and attitudes that did not previously fit in, thus making it different and wider.”

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Francis Alÿs @ TATE Modern

A story of deception
Modern 15 June – 5 September 2010

An exhibition by Francis Alys at Tate Modern takes place during summer 2010 as the experimental artist showcases his work from over the last twenty years. Including painting, installations, animation, sculpture and video art, this exhibition is set to explore the nature of this politically motivated conceptual artist.

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Francis Alÿs awarded BACA 2010

The jury of the Biennial Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) 2010 prize has unanimously announced Francis Alys the winner. For over twenty years, Alÿs has lived in Mexico City and recently also in Casablanca. The BACA is intended as a tribute to an artist for his or her adventurous oeuvre and visible influence on other (younger) artists.

Francis Alÿs meets these criteria in exemplary fashion, adding to them a personal world brimming with poetic accents and enormous involvement with his neighbors from non-Western cultures. It is precisely this poetic and humanist side that gives his work such an exceptional power of expression. He is a ‘visual poet’, focusing on small situations with big implications on deeply-rooted levels of meaning. His work consists of photos, video, film, and painted works on paper and canvas, in which a striking element is the way he regularly commissions others to execute these paintings.

The Collector/El Colector. 1991-1992 | Metalic dogs magnetized on wheels, video, photographs, maps, sketches and documentation

Turista | 1996

Paradox of Praxis 1 | 1997
Alÿs pushes a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melts; serving as a way to mark time and measure existence.

When Faith Moves Mountains | 2002
A Project for Geological Displacement | Francis Alÿs, collaborating with Rafael Ortega and Cuauhtémoc Medina.

On April 11th 2002, 500 voluntiers were called in order to form a line to move a sand dune situated in the surroundings of the city of Lima. This human comb pushed a certain quantity of sand a certain distance, thereby moving a sixteen-hundred-foot-long sand dune about four inches from its original position. The actual displacement was of an infinitesimal proportion, but not its metaphorical resonance.

El Gringo | 2003
In El Gringo, viewers experience the discomfort of being an outsider when the camera is confronted by a pack of snarling dogs.