francis-alys

Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling is already—within the speed of culture of our time—a kind of resistence. But it also happens to be a very immediate method for unfolding stories. It’s an easy, cheap act to perform.
—  Francis Alÿs

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.

Francis Alÿs (Belgian, born 1959). Cuentos Patrióticos. 1997. Video (black and white, sound), 24:40 min. Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery, New York. © 2011 Francis Alÿs

Entering “A Story of Deception,” one is greeted by the sound of church bells, an integral element of Cuentos Patrioticos, a video of a man leading a line of sheep in a circle around a square. This piece references a 1968 protest where civil servants bleated like sheep in objection to government treatment.