Francis Alÿs: SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POETIC CAN BECOME POLITICAL AND SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POLITICAL CAN BECOME POETIC
Opening on February 15, 2007, David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition by Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, who lives and works in Mexico City. Recently, Alÿs was the subject of solo exhibitions at Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany, MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2006); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany [traveled to Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France and Museo d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, and Museo de San Idelfonso, Mexico City, Mexico] (all 2005-2006); Musée d'Art Contemporain, Avignon, France (2004); Centro nazionale per le arti contemporanee, Rome, Italy [traveled to Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain] (all 2003); and Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2002). Among the artist's numerous group exhibitions are 14th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2004); 2004 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; São Paulo Biennale, São Paolo, Brazil (2004); and Shanghai Biennale 2002, Shanghai, China. This will be Alÿs's first solo exhibition at David Zwirner–his first New York gallery show since 1997.
A compulsive wanderer, Francis Alÿs is known for his in-depth projects in a wide range of media including documentary film, painting, photography, performance and video. Many of his works involve intense observation and recording of the social, cultural and economic conditions of particular places, usually conceived during walks through urban areas. For example, The Modern Procession (2002), chronicles the movement of artworks from MoMA to Queens before the remodeling and expansion of their Manhattan galleries. In Cuentos Patrióticos (1997), a flock of sheep circle the main flag pole on the Plaza del Zócalo in Mexico City as a political metaphor. Filmed in the same plaza, Zócalo (1999) records the same flag pole as it becomes an accidental sun clock over the course of a day. Some projects focus more intently on the people who live in Alÿs's subject cities. Beggars (2002-2004), comprises an 80-slide carousel with images of street people asking for money at the entrance to the subway in Mexico City, and When Faith Moves Mountains (2002) documents a large group of people outside the Peruvian capital as they slowly and deliberately "move" a large sand dune a short distance using shovels. In these and his many other projects, which are typically displayed along with working notes, drawings, paintings, photographs and ephemeral material employed in their processes, Alÿs creates powerfully original metaphors for human will.