Francis Alÿs / Seven Walks
28-09-05 e-flux (servicio de noticias on-line)
28 September – 20 November 2005
21 Portman Square, London W1 and the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2
An Artangel Commission kindly supported by Bloomberg.
A journey implies a destination, so many miles to be consumed, while a walk is its own measure, complete at every point along the way. Francis Alÿs
Francis Alÿs walks a lot. He walks the streets of the world’s largest metropolis, Mexico City, where he has made his home for the past 15 years. He has also walked the streets of Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Jerusalem and London. Observing and intervening in this huge open-air studio, Alÿs maps the city, staging elusive scenarios and making poetic films and animations. His work can be as monumental as moving an immense sand dune (a project he undertook with a thousand people in Lima), as ephemeral as sending a postcard or as subtly humorous as having a peacock take his place at an important gathering of his peers.
Over the past 5 years, Alÿs has been walking the streets of London, evolving Seven Walks an ambitious new project for Artangel which delves into the everyday rituals and habits of the metropolis. The walks are enacted in different parts of the city – Hyde Park, the City of London, the National Portrait Gallery, the streets close to Regents Park. The ensuing films, videos, paintings and drawings are presented together in Alÿs’ first major public presentation in Britain. Alÿs’ Railings explores the rhythmic possibilities afforded by a characteristic feature of Regency London, its railings. Guards follows sixty-four individual Coldstream Guards as they move through the Square Mile of London. In Ice4Milk slide images of a large block of ice being pushed through the streets of Mexico City are juxtaposed with the morning delivery of milk bottles to London doorsteps. Pebble Walk is Alÿs’ postcard homage to Richard Long based on a walk Alÿs took through Hyde Park in 1999. The Nightwatch uses surveillance to observe a nocturnal visitation in the Tudor and Georgian rooms of the National Portrait Gallery.
Seven Walks is presented within two distinctive London buildings. Drawings, paintings, photographs and videos – are presented within the faded grandeur of one of the great neo-classical buildings on Portman Square designed by James Adam in the late 18th century. The Nightwatch will be presented in the Main Hall of the National Portrait Gallery.
Born in Antwerp in 1959 Francis Alÿs trained as an architect. Following a period of study in Venice he decided both to leave Europe and to discontinue his work as an architect. He relocated to Mexico City where he has lived and worked for the past 15 years.
Recent large-scale projects by Alÿs include The Modern Procession realised to mark the temporary move of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2001 and When Faith Moves Mountains, a major “land art” project in the hills above Lima in 2002. Alongside these public actions, Alÿs continues to make more improvised projects as well as exquisite paintings and drawings. His exhibition Ten Blocks from My Studio is currently on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. In 2004 Alÿs was the inaugural winner of the Blue Orange Prize in Berlin.
For further information and images please contact Janette Scott, Head of Press and Publicity at Artangel on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7713 1400.
Notes to Editors
1. Francis Alys: Seven Walks at 21 Portman Square is open Tuesday - Sunday: 11.00 – 7.00 pm and 9pm on Thursdays. Closed Mondays. Free Admission. Information line 020 7713 1402.
2. The National Portrait Gallery is open daily 10am – 6pm and until 9pm Thursdays and Fridays. Free admission to The Nightwatch project, located in the Main Hall of the Gallery.
3. With thanks to: The Portman Estate and Godfrey Vaughan for making available 21 Portman Square; The Outset Contemporary Art Fund, The Felix Trust for Art, The Robbins Foundation, The Moose Foundation for the Arts and Mary Moore for support in realising the individual Walks, and The Elephant Trust for supporting the initial research and development of the project. Thanks also to the Lisson Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery.
4. Seven Walks, the publication is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.
5. Artangel is supported by Arts Council England, London, The Company of Angels and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. For further information about Artangel see: