“Field Report” of Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception

I’ll admit – I didn’t see everything in the Francis Alÿs exhibition because I had to leave early. So, I mainly focused on the video installations. Also, I failed to note the names of the videos, so I’ll just refer to them by content.

MoMa described the exhibition as “addressing the politics of public space to large-scale communal participation where the culmination of many small acts achieves mythic proportions”. – also – “personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process.” Reading that, I thought his exhibition might relate to Deluze’s straited vs. smooth environments — but, since I’m mainly focusing on the video work, I did not get a sense of that at all.

The videos of the sheep and the car going uphill could be thought of ‘direct time-images’ and fit with our discussion of Cinema 2 and also Bergon’s duration. Not only are these videos ‘long takes’ or one shot videos, but it’s quite impossible to get a sense of them without viewing them in their entirety. The sheep, in particular was interesting in that you had to watch it for quite a long time to discover that the amount of sheep was changing. I noticed quite a few people counting sheep with their fingers after watching for about five minutes. To me, that is truly a “shot that fuses the pastness of the recorded event with the presentness of its viewing”.

The car was also related to this idea, however I found it predictable. I knew there was no way the car would make it to the top (something told me that would be bad taste) so it became repetitive and I had a more disconnected experience with it, but I did enjoy its duration.

The video with the stripper was of particular interest to me – it was difficult to even get a sense of time since she didn’t conform to ‘normal’ stripper behavior (and yes, I would know), by removing clothes and then putting them back on. That simple act coupled with the discussions was completely disorienting to me. I loved the last bit where the speakers relate the stripper to representing an ‘ending’ and that she doesn’t want it to end. She is in some ways controlling the duration.

The video of the tornado, and of the gun were much different than the others. Although I loved them both, they seemed more like YouTube videos or JackAss stunts than “addressing the politics of space.” I’d rather not comment on them.

I enjoyed the exihibition and, again, thought the sheep video was a great example of a direct time image.

My major complaint, as Sam discovered, was that the record player next to the film projector was fake. Why even have it there? That, to me, is just fraudulent.

Posted by: Kenneth Anderson

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