Reference monograph, centered on some of the Belgian-born Mexican-based artist's key motifs and features: his 30-year groundbreaking video practice; the importance of strolling and walking for his artistic method; his interest in children's games which he has filmed in various countries since 1999.
Published to accompany Francis Alÿs' major exhibition at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne in 2021, this monograph is centered on some of the artist's key motifs and features. From urban wandering to the exploration of territories and their borders documented by moving images, Alÿs' work proposes a poetics of space through brief narratives whose finesse and accuracy invite access by the general public. If his work questions the link between artistic act and political intervention, the artist always works by allusions, with remarkable precision and economy of means, preferring poetic polysemy to frontal political commentary, favoring the merging of planned imaginary spaces with his own fictional spaces. The publication also focuses on Reel-Unreel, one of Alÿs' major projects realized in Afghanistan, comprising children's games and hand-drawn animation loops as well as paintings and graphic works and the eponymous video Reel-Unreel (2011).
Edited and introduced by MCBA Lausanne curator Nicole Schweizer, the book features comprehensive essays by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Professor of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley; Luis Pérez-Oramas, independent curator and writer, New York; and Judith Rodenbeck, Associate Professor, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, University of California Riverside, and is generously illustrated.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, in 2021-2022.
Francis Alÿs was born in Belgium in 1959 and trained as an architect before re-locating to Mexico City in 1986, where he has been based ever since. He is best known for his actions which he documents in various ways. Some just involve him walking through the city; other actions are epic events set in dramatic landscapes involving hundreds of participants. Alÿs also works with painting, animation and drawing, and many of the images he creates have a dreamlike surreal quality. His actions are frequently humorous, often transient, and can sometimes seem absurd, but they are always concise and carefully planned. For a long time Alÿs has been interested in spreading news about his work through unconventional means such as rumour, so audiences can interpret his projects in unpredictable ways without seeing images of them. All these poetic qualities lead to his idiosyncratic way of approaching questions to do with urbanism, economics, migration, and borders. Throughout his career he has particularly investigated the processes of modernisation in Mexico and in Latin America.