"Francis Alÿs: surreal whimsy meets ethical commitment"
"Over his career, Alÿs has had solo shows at major institutions, including London’s Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. He has participated at documenta and the Venice Biennale, and his work is held in public collections worldwide.
A rare example of an artist who marries surreal whimsy with ethical commitment, he has won fans with ludic performances such as Paradox of Praxis (1997), in which he pushed a melting block of ice through Mexico City’s streets for nine hours, and When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), where he persuaded 500 Peruvian students to attempt to shift a sand dune a few metres. Such antics might suggest a Zen-like recognition of human futility, yet Alÿs’ meditations are laced with a darker awareness that often it is geopolitical forces that nullify our endeavours."
Read the full feature in the Financial Times
On January 21, Alÿs will receive the Art Icon Award at an evening event hosted by Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick, OBE, and Swarovski Executive Board member Nadja Swarovski. Launched in 2014, the award is supported by Swarovski, and celebrates the work of an artist who has made a profound contribution to a particular medium, influencing their own and subsequent generations of artists.
Alÿs will debut his new film Sandlines (2018) in the “New Frontiers" category at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Filmed during multiple trips over the past few years, the work is part of a larger body of work focused on Iraq, the beginnings of which were first exhibited at the Iraqi Pavilion during the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Image: Francis Alÿs, 2016. Photo by Akam Shex Hadi, Ruya Foundation