Francis Alys

Born (1959) in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai, Belgium (1978-1983), and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, Venice (1983-1986). He lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico. Recent solo exhibitions: Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California / Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá, Colombia (2007); Francis Alÿs: Fabiola, Dia Art Foundation at The Hispanic Society of America, New York / Los Angeles County Museum of Art / National Portrait Gallery, London / Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Spain -organized by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid / Haus zum Kirschgarten, Basel (2007-2011); Bolero, The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (2008); Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, Tate Modern, London / Wiels Centre d’ Art Contemporain, Brussels / The Museum of Modern Art, New York / MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2010).

 

The Green Line

Jerusalem 2004

Video Documentation of an action

 

Sometimes doing something poetic can become political,

and

sometimes doing something political can become poetic.

 

 

In the summer of 1995 I performed a walk with a leaking can of blue paint in the city of Sao Paulo. The walk was then read as a poetic gesture of sort.

In June 2004, I re-enacted that same performance by tracing a line following the portion of the Green Line that runs through the municipality of Jerusalem. Little after a filmed documentation of the walk was presented to a number of people whom I invited to react spontaneouslyto the action and the circumstances within which it was performed.

 

 

When Faith Moves Mountains and its unexpected public resonance led the artist to review his practice to understand the relationship between poetic acts and political intervention. It was from this stance that the Green Line project in Jerusalem began. Alÿs questioned if the “poetic licence” of artists to produce loose statements on a particular situation can actually play a role in the pursuit of new perspectives on the course of a particular society. Operating in two phases, the artist first transposed onto the “holy city” a previous walk that involved a commentary on action painting, to the task of resuscitating the memory of a historical partition. He then used the footage of his walk to collect a wide array of reactions from Palestinian, Israeli and international subjects, who reflected on the events of the Middle East conflict and the pertinence of artistic practice in such context.

Alÿs in the Green Line describes the relationship between poetics and politics as contingent, contextual and historical; he avoids taking a dogmatic stance on its moral or aesthetic necessity. The key contribution of Alÿs’s experience consists of defining the timing of the relation between art and politics as conditional: neither “never” or “always”, nor “must” or “shouldn’t”. All of those dichotomies are erased with the gentle concept of “sometimes”, which allows the discrete possibility of the “almost”. 

 

Francis Alÿs and Cuauhtemoc Medina

Photos

The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic) 2005 Documentation of an action Dimensions variable,Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund and the Michael and Dorothy Blankfort Bequest by exchange
The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic), 2005, Documentation of an action, Dimensions variable,Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund and the Michael and Dorothy Blankfort Bequest by exchange
The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic), 2005, Documentation of an action, Dimensions variable,Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund and the Michael and Dorothy Blankfort Bequest by exchange
The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic), 2005, Documentation of an action, Dimensions variable,Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund and the Michael and Dorothy Blankfort Bequest by exchange

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon