Francis Alys: Dont Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River | David Zwirner

Francis Alÿs

Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River

David Zwirner is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alÿs at the gallery’s Paris location. Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River brings together a group of works made by the artist from 2006 onward that relate to an action that took place simultaneously on opposite shores of the Strait of Gibraltar—in Tangier, Morocco, and Tarifa, Spain—on 12 August 2008. This is the first solo presentation in Paris for the internationally acclaimed artist, who will represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale. 

Alÿs is known for his in-depth projects in a wide range of media, including documentary film, painting, photography, performance, and video. Through his practice, Alÿs consistently directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns centered around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life. The artist himself has described his work as “a sort of discursive argument composed of episodes, metaphors, or parables.”

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Installation video, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021
Video by Pushpin Films

 

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An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

The Strait of Gibraltar 
is 7,7 nautical miles wide (13 km) 
and separates Africa from Europe. 

If a line of kids 
leaves Europe towards Morocco,
and a line of kids 
leaves Africa towards Spain,

will the 2 lines meet 
in the chimera of the horizon? 

Tarifa, Spain 
Strait of Gibraltar
Aug 12, 2008


مضيق جبل طارق
يمتد سبعة أميال بحرية (13 كم)
 فاصلا بين أفريقيا وأوروبا.
 
إذا ما صف من الأطفال
غادر أوروبا باتجاه المغرب،
وصف آخر من الأطفال
غادر أفريقيا باتجاه إسبانيا،
 
هل يلتقي الصفان
عند وهم الأفق؟
 
طنجة، المغرب
 
مضيق جبل طارق
12 غشت 2008

“The Strait [of Gibraltar] seemed like the obvious place to illustrate this contradiction of our times: how can one promote global economy and at the same time limit the global flow of people across continents?”

—Francis Alÿs

“The difference between a military operation and an artistic gesture lies precisely in the missing fragment of the bridge: the gap that has to be filled by our imagination. That’s what triggers the poetry and makes the artistic operation happen, that’s what opens a moment of suspension.”

—Francis Alÿs, The Logbook of Gibraltar

Photo documentation of Francis Alÿs's project titled Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River.
Photo documentation of Francis Alÿs's project titled Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River.

“Playing with images of maps and mobile continents, dragged by bodies and rafts or their fragments, or sketching beings that turn into islands and other geographical markers, Alÿs infused around his bridge at Gibraltar a tale of tales defined by icons reminiscent of ancient miracles.… Alÿs’s paintings are not his action-stories, but rather a parallel thought process that occurs when the artist imagines, plans, or reflects on the creation of one of his projects. Alÿs’s paintings are both autonomous and accessories to the project that emits them. These paintings are both the memory and the outline of the ideas that accompany the works, and their most intimate, refined result.” 

—Cuauhtémoc Medina

A collage on paper by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (study for Le Juif Errant Gibralter), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (study for Le Juif Errant Gibraltar), 2008
Oil, collage and pencil on canvas
12 3/4 x 15 7/8 inches (32.5 x 40.5 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
7 x 9 inches (17.8 x 22.9 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil, encaustic, graphite, vellum, and tape on canvas on panel
11 3/8 x 13 7/8 inches (28.7 x 35.2 cm)

“His thought process takes an aesthetic turn when moving from a concrete political situation to the miragelike quality of dreams, or from the adult world into child’s play.”

—Gabriela Jauregui, Art Review

A collage by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
Diptych
Each: 5 3/8 x 7 1/4 inches (13.7 x 18.4 cm)
Overall: 11 x 7 1/4 inches (27.9 x 18.4 cm)
A sculpture by Francis Alÿs, titled 64 Shoe Boats, dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs

64 Shoe Boats, 2007-2008
Glass, plastic, fabric, wood, leather, foam, thread, and steel
Each: 11 x 21 1/4 x 4 inches (28 x 54 x 10 cm)
An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

A detail from a work by Francis Alÿs, called Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2008).

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

A detail from a work by Francis Alÿs, called Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2008).

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

A detail from a work by Francis Alÿs, called Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2008).

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

A detail from a work by Francis Alys, titled Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007–2008 (detail)

“Let the images talk on many different levels as only poetry can.… Insert a story into the history of the Strait. Stories pass through a place without the need to settle anything.”

—Francis Alÿs

A collage by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don’t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River'), dated 2007 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don’t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil, collage, and tape on vellum in artist's frame
7 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches (19.7 x 28.3 cm)
Framed: 8 7/8 x 12 1/4 inches (22.5 x 31.1 cm)
A painting by Francis Alys, titled Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2008
Oil, graphite, tape, staples, and collage on vellum
13 1/8 x 17 3/4 inches (33.3 x 45.1 cm)
Framed: 15 3/8 x 20 1/2 inches (39.1 x 52.1 cm)
An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view from an exhibition titled, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Francis Alÿs: Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

A diptych by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), dated 2006 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2006-2008
Drawing: Oil, staples, and graphite on vellum;
Painting: Oil and encaustic on canvas on wood
Drawing: 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches (29.8 x 21.6 cm)
Drawing, framed: 12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches (32.4 x 24.1 cm)
Painting: 9 3/8 x 7 5/8 inches (23.7 x 19.3 cm)

“What makes Francis Alÿs’s practice one of the most compelling in recent art is that he manages to find poetic and imaginative ways to address the urgent political and economic crisis of contemporary life.… Children were invited to walk into the waves with these shoe-boats, forming two lines that stretched out towards one another over the seas. New associations emerged: to the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, to Jesus walking on water. And it was only after he made the shoe-boats that Alÿs realized that there was an almost identical construction in Hieronymus Bosch’s Last Judgment.

—Mark Godfrey

Inquire about works by Francis Alys

A collage on paper by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (study for Le Juif Errant Gibralter), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (study for Le Juif Errant Gibraltar), 2008
Oil, collage and pencil on canvas
12 3/4 x 15 7/8 inches (32.5 x 40.5 cm)
An installation by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2020.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007-2020
Mixed media, sculptures, drawings and ephemera relating to Don't Cross the Bridge Before you Get to the River
Dimensions variable
A video by Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Ivan Boccara and Julien Devaux  Miradores (Strait of Gibraltar), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Ivan Boccara and Julien Devaux

Miradores (Strait of Gibraltar), 2008
Two channel video, 20:26 min, color, sound
Dimensions variable
A collage by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don’t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River'), dated 2007 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don’t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil, collage, and tape on vellum in artist's frame
7 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches (19.7 x 28.3 cm)
Framed: 8 7/8 x 12 1/4 inches (22.5 x 31.1 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil, encaustic, graphite, vellum, and tape on canvas on panel
11 3/8 x 14 7/8 inches (28.7 x 37.6 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
11 3/8 x 8 3/4 inches (28.7 x 22 cm)
A sculpture by Francis Alys, titled Map of the Strait (Gibraltar), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Map of the Strait (Gibraltar), 2008
Map in four (4) parts and two (2) stainless steel forks
Map: 40 7/8 x 28 inches (103.8 x 71.1 cm)
Forks, each: 7 7/8 x 1 1/4 x 1/2 inches (20 x 3 x 1.3 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2008
Oil, graphite, tape, staples, and collage on vellum
13 1/8 x 17 3/4 inches (33.3 x 45.1 cm)
Framed: 15 3/8 x 20 1/2 inches (39.1 x 52.1 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
7 x 9 inches (17.8 x 22.9 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), dated 2008-2020.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2008-2020
Oil on canvas on wood panel
12 3/8 x 10 1/8 inches (31.5 x 25.6 cm)
A collage by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
Diptych
Each: 5 3/8 x 7 1/4 inches (13.7 x 18.4 cm)
Overall: 11 x 7 1/4 inches (27.9 x 18.4 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Pie Mojado, Pie Seco), dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Pie Mojado, Pie Seco), 2007-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
Diptych
Each: 7 5/8 x 10 3/8 inches (19.3 x 26.2 cm)
Overall: 17 x 10 3/8 inches (43.2 x 26.4 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
11 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches (28.6 x 21.6 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
Diptych
Each: 12 5/8 x 10 1/4 inches (32 x 26 cm)
Overall: 12 5/8 x 20 3/4 inches (32.1 x 52.7 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2007-2008
Oil, encaustic, graphite, vellum, and tape on canvas on panel
11 3/8 x 13 7/8 inches (28.7 x 35.2 cm)
A diptych by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), dated 2006 to 2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2006-2008
Drawing: Oil, staples, and graphite on vellum;
Painting: Oil and encaustic on canvas on wood
Drawing: 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches (29.8 x 21.6 cm)
Drawing, framed: 12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches (32.4 x 24.1 cm)
Painting: 9 3/8 x 7 5/8 inches (23.7 x 19.3 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil and encaustic on canvas on panel
8 5/8 x 7 inches (21.7 x 17.7 cm)
A painting by Francis Alÿs, titled Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), dated 2006-2008.

Francis Alÿs

Untitled (Study for 'Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River'), 2006-2008
Oil, encaustic, and graphite on canvas on panel
7 5/8 x 9 5/8 inches (19.4 x 24.4 cm)
A sculpture by Francis Alÿs, titled 64 Shoe Boats, dated 2007-2008.

Francis Alÿs

64 Shoe Boats, 2007-2008
Glass, plastic, fabric, wood, leather, foam, thread, and steel
Each: 11 x 21 1/4 x 4 inches (28 x 54 x 10 cm)
A video by Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, titled Children's Game #2: Ricochets Tangier, Morocco, dated 2007.

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Rafael Ortega

Children's Game #2: Ricochets Tangier, Morocco, 2007
Video, 4:42 min, color, sound
Dimensions variable
A video by Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Julien Devaux, Felix Blume, Ivan Boccara, Abbas Benheim, Fundaciéon Montenmedio Arte, and children of Tangier and Tarifa, titled Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River (Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco-Spain), dated 2008.

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Julien Devaux, Felix Blume, Ivan Boccara, Abbas Benheim, Fundaciéon Montenmedio Arte, and children of Tangier and Tarifa

Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River (Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco-Spain), 2008
Video, 7 min, color, sound
Dimensions variable

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          Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River

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