15 November 2010

Day 10- Moving Mountains, Francis Alÿs

On the home streak now. Two more days to go. 

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Rafael Ortega
When Faith Moves Mountains,
2002

Born in Antwerp in 1959, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico in the mid '80s, a time of great political unrest. His works deal with the place of art, of its poetic intention, in highly politicised situations - whether it be in border zones in Latin America or the Green Line in Palestine. Many of his works begin with a big idea and a small step. A lone man pushing a giant ice block through the streets of Mexico City only for it to melt - his visions speak of a kind of human perseverance in the face of political stalling, absurdity, and sometimes, of overcoming futility and disappointment. For his 2002 work, When Faith Moves Mountains, 500 people took up shovels in Lima to move a sand dune ten centimetres. The images recall a kind of biblical scene; desert, slaves banding together to see through an extraordinary task while under Pharaohnic tyranny. Unified, in their uniform of jeans and identical shirts, their individuality cast aside, moving as a single file, they are able to accomplish the remarkable. As one of the participants remarked during the making of the film, "...a group of people, on the base of their faith can do things that otherwise would be impossible. Something totally irrational." The recording was exhibited at Tate Modern earlier this year in a large scale exhibition of his works. Alÿs began recording the every day around Mexico City, documenting the lives of street people in slides, perhaps getting a taste for social justice causes and life's more serious questions. Though video work (his actions and their documentation) is integral to his practice, painting and drawing are also mediums central to his art.
You can watch his videos here.

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