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Francis Alÿs

The Belgian born artist strikes again with a though provoking mixture of his most praised work. Francis Tate Moderns much anticipated Francis Alÿs exhibition has been the most talked about show in London. His mixed media works is though provoking and easy to comprehend in regards to his work being influenced by similar themes. What seems to hold the interest of all likeminded tourist and regular Tate visitors is the heavy emphasis on migration and border control issues. the first piece that was arresting to my eye and many viewers is the small but conveniently placed small canvas torn in the middle cutting through the canvas and merged into the wall seems like an earthquake crack imprinted on a canvas, which may subsequently be the intention of Alÿs great interest in geography as an architect himself his enthusiasm for architecture is seen throughout his work.

Walking through the spacious monotonous a picture motion loop is running, it’s a murky view of road in what looks like a border crossing perhaps the Mexico-USA border. This types of images of border politics is the theme surrounding most of Alÿs works. ‘The Loop’ is a simple idealist view of an ocean that is the crossing from the South American city Tijuana with the departure date being June 2, Alÿs leaves a trail of the cities he stops for to make his journey to San Diego within 35 days trip around the countries reside on border of the Pacific ocean, this countries were Tijuana to San Diego via Mexico City, Panama City, Santiago, Tahiti, Auckland, Sydney, Singapore, Bangkok, Rangoon, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Anchorage, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. “7% of the total travelling time has been spent in 17 airports over 16 countries. ” (A. Francis).

Another outstanding work is ‘The Green Line’ Alÿs discovery of his signature style ‘the leak’ which is performed by dripping paint from a bottle to mark a line for an artistic purpose. The Green Line is significant historical divide of the Israel-Jordan border after the 6 days war in 1967 which ended with a cease fire and subsequently the dividing line which was marked in green grease pencil, the area is now know as the West bank. Alÿs reflects on this walking silently through the border with dripping green paint from a bottle. “Sometimes doing something poetic can become political, and sometimes doing something political can become poetics” this is written before the entrance to the motion picture of Alÿs Green Line.


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Beyondall this there isalsogreat piece suchas the ‘Re-enactm ents’ that showsareenactm entof Alÿswitness of arandomday inM exico city inwherehehadseen a m anbuy agun fromagun shop andwalkedopenly through the street until heisstoppedby thepolice. Alÿsreenactm entof this scene tookhim12m insuntil heiseventually stoppedby thepolicy. Other pieces includesm all picture m otionand sceneof the‘rehearsal’, with the caption ‘M odernity is pornography’ astrongstatem ent that canbearguable. ‘W hen faith m oves’ isanem otional piecewhere theartist gathers500 Peruvianstudents tovoluntarily walk upinlineupa sanduneon theoutskirts of thecity, diggingwhilewalkingand displacing the sandduneby a fewcentim etres. Again theartist touchesabit of politicswith the principleof ‘m axim umeffort, m inim al result’ aphraseusedby m any Latin Am erican onthe m odernisation schem e. O n thevideosom e of thevoluntariesareinterviewedone voluntary says‘whenwestartedgetting to theend, everyonestarted shovelling faster’ as m ost of Alÿsvideo m otions touchoncertain topics, thisparticular piece triggers the issueof im m igrationandborder crossing inSouth Am erica.


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