22 May 2011

Francis Alÿs in NYC

What is it about Francis Alÿs that makes his work so intriguing? The retrospective organized by the Tate Modern and now at MoMA and P.S. 1 was top of the to-do list on my trip last week to New York City. The videos are compelling, simple but compelling. The paintings are quirky, quaint and just grab you. The Peter Schjeldahl essay in The New Yorker for May 23rd grabs the essence way better than I could. He talks about the simple pleasure in Alÿs's works: chasing tornadoes, dropping his camera when the angry dogs bark and bark, driving repeatedly up a dusty hill (set to a band rehearsal: forward when playing, backward between bits of rehearsing), primitive paintings, walking with a gun in the street, the Coldstream Guards moving from random to ordered and dispersing.

I've been intrigued by the work of Francis Alÿs for some years. Is it the quixotic diaeresis? Whatever, when I read recently that his birth name was Francis de Smedt, I had to check his NACO record and the birth name was indeed missing. So I added it to the record. In all of the MoMA documentation, I never did see it mentioned.

The image is from Tate page for the exhibition.