David Zwirner gallery, London, will be hosting Ciudad Juárez projects, an exhibition of recent works by Francis Alÿs. Over the past three decades, Alÿs has become known for his multifaceted practice, which encompasses public actions, installations, videos, paintings, and drawings. Works between 2010 and 2015 feature scenery from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, once known for its prosperity until the recent social decline due to drug-related violence.
With an imaginative sensibility towards geopolitical concerns and engagements with everyday life, the artist offers open-ended questions to the viewer about violence and crime in contemporary culture. Operating as an artist during a time of national crisis, Alÿs references his role within society, touching on controversial cultural themes about recording the world as a voyeur, with an artistic intention.
The major video installation Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream, Ciudad Juárez, México (2013), made in collaboration with Julien Devaux, Rafael Ortega, Alejandro Morales, and Félix Blume, attempts to further this idea; the problematic notion of trying to create something beautiful, or aesthetically pleasing, from a disastrous situation. In doing so, the artist questions whether it can or should be done.
In the video Alÿs kicks a flaming soccer ball through Ciudad Juárez at night, the only light to guide him through the fire, which he needs to kick in order to see his way. Darkness, in this case, is a veil for the activities of humans, and the problems that they pose under the blanket of anonymity, of secrecy. Furthermore, the act of walking as a repetitive, meditative process, catalyses a recognition of social issues.
Also on view will be a group of related paintings and drawings, including a diagrammatic rendering of Ciudad Juárez’s interrelated problems and aspirations; as well as a painting related to Alÿs’s ongoing Linchados(Lynchings) series, allegorical scenes which place the artist in the role of witness to violent acts.
Francis Alÿs Ciudad Juárez projects, runs until 5 August at David Zwirner, London.
1. Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Julien Devaux, Rafael Ortega, Alejandro Morales, and Félix Blume Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream Ciudad Juárez, México, 2013 (detail of video still). Video, 7:49 minutes, color, sound. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London