Francis Alÿs. A story of Deception: room guide, A Story of Deception

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Olivier Debroise and Rafael Ortega A Story of Deception Patagonia 2003–6

Throughout his career Francis Alÿs has particularly investigated the processes of modernisation in Mexico and in Latin America. He examines cycles of promise and disappointment whereby economic and social change is expected without ever really taking place. The title of the exhibition is taken from a work in this room, A Story of Deception 2003–6, in which a mirage was filmed on a desert highway in Patagonia. The mirage might suggest a goal that is longed for but never reached, yet the film also gives a sense of the ongoing attraction of utopia.

‘Deception’ in Alÿs’s work can therefore mean many things besides disillusionment. The simplest gestures and images might generate very different readings. ‘Deception’ also suggests the kind of trickery that we associate with magicians. Alÿs can start with a rough object, a tiny image, an everyday event, a children’s game, or a trail of paint, transforming these things to make works that address some of the most urgent questions in contemporary life.