Francis Alÿs Tornado Milpa Alta 2000–2010

Francis Alÿs
Tornado, Milpa Alta 2000–2010
Private collection © Francis Alÿs Photo: Video still

Since 2000, Alÿs has visited an area in the Mexican countryside where tornadoes occur, and has filmed his attempts to run into the eye of the storms. The footage was gathered over a decade and edited to make the intense video Tornado 2000–10. For Alÿs the dust storm suggests the imminent collapse of a system of government or political order. The act of running into the storm, which we see repeated over and over, also invites interpretation: is the artist no longer able to combat the chaos he encounters? Is he recognising the vanity of poetic gestures at a time of calamity? Or is it only within the chaos that he can challenge the turmoil around him? Reaching the epicentre of the storm, the artist is breathless and almost blinded, yet he encounters a furtive moment of peace that could hint at a new moment of possibility.

Over the course of editing Tornado, Alÿs has begun work on a new body of paintings and drawings with related imagery such as explosions and implosions. Some of these are his most abstract works to date. This body of work is very much in progress, and presented in Room 15 is an installation approximating the arrangement of the material at the stage it left the studio.