Francis Alys

francis alys: walking distance from the studio” – kunstmuseum wolfsburg

“Observing and explaining anthropological contexts and social situations… for almost 20 years”
– Not global, but local
– No pandering to the trend of ‘political art’ just to fit with popular movement. Just his own, actual, genuine, observations of the city.

“Collects experiences of everyday life”
Participant and observer, as a human being and as an artist.


“francis alys: 7 walks, london, 2004-2005” – artangel, 2005

Goes into his walks without a particular plan, approaches the city with a method rather than a project. This allows an “open and responsive” mode of making.

Importance of the presence of railings: sound, feeling, memory, association, barrier, wall, function.

“Listening to the music of the city”

Rumour and bronze sculptures in grabage bags. An exploration of the circuits of diffusion and circulation. Systems and networks that develop naturally through the process of circulation and distribution. “I like to set an idea in motion, to set the parameters for a situation to develop and then lose control of it” (does the city/space itself become one of these “parameters”?)
– e.g musicians finding each other in the city; drawn by sound.
-tracking, chasing, following
– e.g “The Nightwatch” : fox in the National Gallery, CCTV
– ‘discovering’ relationships/networks/webs
– e.g milk bottles, people in shadows

Francis Alys “Z√≥calo Mayo”1999
Francis Alys “The Nightwatch” 2004

“My first impulse was not to take from the city, but more to absorb what was already there, to work within the residues, or with the negative spaces, the holes, the spaces in between

Dematerialised works presented as film, photograph, maps, lists, diagrams, conversations, press coverage, emails etc.

Francis Alys “A Personal Repertoire of Possible Behaviour While Walking the Streets in London Town” 2005

Francis Alys has become the most important reference in my work. He works with intervention / public event in a way that I have struggled to see in other artists. There is minimal political drive, rather he is honestly and organically exploring space, the city, human interaction with the city etc. He makes art both in the city and with the city.

Walking and noticing things that then become maps and networks. I am also interested in his focus on distribution and circulation. Reminds me of the idea of “drawing a picture” in the city that is either invisible or is impossible to see as a whole. Don’t know what happens to it once you turn the corner. (Link to “New York Trilogy:City of Glass“)

Francis Alys “The Green Line” 2004 – drew a line on a map with a thick green marker then followed this line as closely as possible while leaving a trail of green paint.

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