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Episode 1 is live! Join hosts Sarah Urist Green and John Green as they meet artists Douglas Paulson and Christopher Robbins and follow them as they Meet in the Middle. Then it’s your turn! Do the assignment, post your results to the social media platform of your choice, and tag it with #theartassignment. Your work may be included in a future episode. (Get started by calculating the midpoint between you and a friend. Or an enemy.) 

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Francis Alÿs

Patriotic Tales, 1997

In Patriotic Tales (1997), Francis Alÿs led a flock of sheep into the Zócalo, the central square of Mexico City, in reference to the bureaucrats who authored the suppression of a protest there in 1968.

Francis Alÿs - When Faith Moves Mountains

For his 2002 “When faith moves mountains” he literally transformed a common figure of speech into an action piece. In the mountains just outside Lima, Peru, Alÿs asked 500 volunteers to walk in a line and use a shovel to move the sand dune 10 centimeters from its original position. The work might be considered a social commentary on the shifting of the country from Fujimori’s dictatorship to democracy and a deeper questioning about the effective role of mass movements of people in causing such shiftings. Furthermore it might be seen as a cynical reading of the artist on the act of “believing” and the absurdity it entails: the effort sustained by the volunteers only produces a small change, which is invisible and unmesurable.