29.7.10

Francis Alÿs

I went to see A story of Deception at the Tate last Friday. I've never been a member of the Tate, but this one show is going to change that. I have to go back and spend more time with it. Probably more than once... Alÿs is a truly great artist – there is so much to think about, such beauty in his movements of thought and foot, such poetry and such anguish and such triumph and such poignancy. I've just read this piece by Edward Platt – he contends that Alÿs is a maker of rumors, a master storyteller whose work is continued, its life extended, by the articles and reviews and other instances of people retelling one of his stories. I've thinking a lot about artists whose practice lies in writing perfect sentences – pieces (installations, performances, videos) that can be uttered in one whole complete, sometimes beautiful, sentence – and wondering what then makes their works, beyond the sentences, important or vital. If the sentence works, what makes the piece necessary? Alÿs's pieces are stories and they can be retold. But they are so much more than the stories they embody. And his presence fills them to overflowing. There is so much loss in the retelling of them. I imagine being a part of, or a witness to, any one of his actual actions being much, much more powerful than the rumor that they become.
Anyway, the show simply can't be taken in in one visit, Platt's piece is wonderfully written, and you should defintely explore Alÿs's work if you don't know it yet.

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