The exhibition consists of three films that attempt to synthesize his critical vision of contemporary society.
By Walter Raymond
The Belgian-Mexican artist Francis Alÿs is the subject of an itinerant exhibition that features a great number of his personal work. A Story of a Negotiation comes to us by way of Buenos Aires’ Museum of Latin American Art (MALBA). The final stop will be in Los Angeles, California.
The sample consists of three cinematic works where the artist attempts to synthesize his critical vision of contemporary society. A Story of a Negotiation is curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina in collaboration with the Tamayo Museum of the Mexico City, where it was presented in March 2015.
The exhibition includes Tornado (2000-2010), a piece that makes reference to his pursuit of land tornados in the Mexico; Do Not Cross the Bridge Before You Reach the River (2008), a work that alludes to the traffic of immigrants in the Straits of Gibraltar, and Reel-Unreel (2011), showcasing the Western World’s vision Afghanistan after decades of war.
The three works include paintings, videos, drawings, and sculptures that combine meaningful interactions, seeking to convey the rationale for different social conflicts in today’s world.
According to the program, the traveling exhibition will be presented at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, and LACMA in Los Angeles, in the US.
Noteworthy Works by Francis Alÿs.
In 2006, Francis Alÿs devised a bridge of boats from Havana to Key West, representing a symbolic union between the two opposing points. In 2008, he attempted an imaginary bridge between Morocco and Spain, with two rows of children walking towards the sea reflecting, somehow, the situation in one of the world's busiest points of immigration flow and contraband: the Strait of Gibraltar.
Between 2011 and 2014, Alÿs served as "war artist" on the Afghanistan front, Working there, he explored the destruction by the Taliban fundamentalist movement through pictures that showed children playing with film reels on the streets of Kabul, the capital city.
The artist says about his personal commitment to art: "In May 2013, I accompanied British troops as a war artist in Afghanistan. Through my involvement in this risky situation, I intended to investigate whether exposing myself to danger would alter my senses and provoke a different response in the field of representation."
The versatile artist was born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium, and currently resides in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut Supérieur d'Architecture Saint-Luc in Tournai, Belgium, and later at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, Italy. In the 1990s, while living in Mexico, he developed his artistic work documenting life in the streets of the city through slides, videos, postcards, and performative interventions.
Alÿs has had solo exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City (1997); the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2003); the Artangel Organization in London (2005); the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City (2006); the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2007); the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Museum, Germany (2004), and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2008), among others.
During 2010-2011, the major retrospective called Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception was successively displayed at the Tate Modern, London; the WIELS Centre d'Art Contemporain, Brussels; and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), in New York.
A Story of a Negotiation reveals the work of a creator who pushed the artistic possibilities of places with high social tension. ■
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