Francis Alÿs

born 1959

Francis Alÿs, ‘The Nightwatch’ 2004
The Nightwatch 2004
© Francis Alÿs
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Francis Alÿs (born 1959, Antwerp) is a Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist. His work emerges in the interdisciplinary space of art, architecture, and social practice. After leaving behind his formal training as an architect and relocating to Mexico City, he has created a diverse body of artwork and performance art that explores urbanity, spatial justice, and land-based poetics. Employing a broad range of media from painting to performance, his works examine the tension between politics and poetics, individual action and impotence. Alÿs commonly enacts paseos—walks that resist the subjection of common space. Alys reconfigures time to the speed of a stroll, making reference to the figure of the flâneur, originating from the work of Charles Baudelaire and developed by Walter Benjamin. Cyclical repetition and return also inform the character of Alÿs’ movements and mythology—Alÿs contrasts geological and technological time through land-based and social practice that examine individual memory and collective mythology. Alÿs frequently engages rumor as a central theme in his practice, disseminating ephemeral, practice-based works through word-of-mouth and storytelling.

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Film and audio

  • Listen

    Comrades of Time

    In this special lecture, Boris Groys, responds to the Francis Alÿs exhibition at Tate Modern with the provocative and counter-intuitive …
  • Listen

    Francis Alÿs: The Poetics of Experimentation

    Francis Alÿs’s practice encompasses political issues such as borders and migration, poetics of the everyday (as seen in his objects …
  • TateShots

    Francis Alÿs: The Last Clown

    Multiple depictions of a man tripping over a dog in a park


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