Francis Alÿs to Represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale
It has just been announced that Francis Alÿs will represent Belgium at the Venice Biennale in 2022. The pavilion will be curated by Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona.
For the 2022 pavilion, Alÿs, whose work featured in the main exhibition at the Biennale in 1999, 2001, and 2007, will present new work developed from his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Football. Featuring children playing a game forbidden by the Islamic State, this work arose from a period the artist spent in Northern Iraq in 2016 on the invitation of the Ruya Foundation, an organization founded in 2012 with the aim of enriching culture in Iraq. Alÿs spent nine days on the frontline in Mosul with the Kurdish Army, or Peshmerga, an experience which continued his exploration of the role of the artist in situations of conflict. In 2017, he presented new paintings and a video created in Mosul in the exhibition Archaic in the Iraqi National Pavilion in Venice.
Alÿs is known for his distinctive practice that addresses anthropological and geopolitical concerns through observation of, and engagement with, everyday life. As he explains in a previous text written for Artforum:
“There is something peculiar about the times we live in, and with them, a different expectation of the artist's role. When the structure of a society collapses, when politicians and media have lost credit and terror invades daily life, society turns toward culture in pursuit of answers. The painter is expected to look at its reality without any filters…Yet, is the artist able to assume those roles from a moral, intellectual, and emotional point of view?’’
Earlier this year, Alÿs was awarded the 2020 Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts. The Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, which administers the prize, recognized his as a body of work “that is as profound as it is extensive. Francis Alÿs’s congenial, metaphorising idiom affords deepened insights into chaotic conflicts while at the same time drawing attention to shortcomings in our daily representation of events.”
Image: Francis Alÿs, Una historia de desencuentro, Gibraltar, 2008–2020 (detail) as featured in the Art Basel 2020 presentation.