In the seething heat of a Mexico City summer, a man pushes a giant block of ice through the paved streets of the capital. He passes restaurants setting up for the evening, kids on bikes, a policemen leaning against a tree-trunk, women under parasols. The block glides along the paving stones, leaving a wet trail as it melts in the heat. Eventually it is the size of a tennis ball; the man kicks it down the road like a can. Soon after, a small puddle is all that's left. He walks away.
The man is artist Francis Alÿs, a Belgian who moved to Mexico in the '80s, and has been there ever since. The piece is Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing: nine hours worth of footage, compassionately cut down to a five minute video. What does it mean? It's been read as a representation of the fruitless toil of impoverished Mexicans, as Baudelairean flânerie, a Sisyphean plight. Alÿs himself scornfully describes the piece as 'a settling of accounts with minimalist sculpture': reducing minimalism's essence - a white cube - to nothing. Whatever your take, you can't deny the piece is beguiling. This is video art for people who can't stomach video art.
Alÿs deals poetically with places that have been uprooted politically, by means of public actions - such as the one above - installations, videos, paintings and drawings. A new David Zwirner exhibition opening this June presents recent works made in Ciudad Juárez, which sits opposite El Paso on the Tex-Mex border. Once a prosperous border city, in recent years Ciudad Juárez has been devastated by drug-related narco-violence.
We're particularly excited about video piece Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream. This haunting work attempts to find beauty in a dire situation. Alÿs kicks a flaming football through the streets at night, which crawl with dealers, prostitutes and indifferent police, all fleetingly illuminated.
|What||Francis Alÿs exhibition, David Zwirner|
|Where||David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4EZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
11 Jun 16 – 05 Aug 16, Tuesday - Saturday 10-6pm
|Website||Click here for more information|