francis alÿs’ show at beirut art center gathers works, both early and recent, that explore zones of turbulence, the motions at the core and the spread out effects, ranging from the miniscule to the monumental. the show reflects on the notion of turbulence, from instability to total chaos, from meteorological phenomena to geopolitical manifestations, from a simple knot in the hair to an ascending spiral. knots represent links and bonds, as well as resistance and binding. they are the smallest unit in the making of a fabric yet they are its sine qua non mechanic condition: a continuous surface that can bring some opacity, some support for projection, inscription, hiding, drawing and building.
this show occurs in a country surrounded by endless conflicts and repressions and that is populated by millions of refugees. between the traces and the oblivion of the country’s wars and wounds, between memories of a faraway golden age and the never ending (re)construction of an increasingly globalized metropolis, beirut seems to produce a space inside of the tornado, in its eye, with a vision of history frozen in monochrome vision. You can see it as a space for freedom or for alienation. you can build on it or drown in it. but it will not be the same for everyone nor will it be forever.
the show will feature photographs taken by francis alÿs in the streets of beirut in 2015 at the occasion of a sand storm, as a local echo of this series, in addition to videos, a previously unseen animation film, and paintings. In these works, every affirmation walks along with its opposite, any gesture comes with its own undoing. "doubt, doubt again & doubt better" (samuel beckett). this poetic step invites the spectator to engage in larger issues throughout deceptively insignificant details.
(antwerp 1959, lives and works in mexico city)
trained as an architect, francis alÿs moved to mexico in 1986 and entered the field of visual arts. his practice embraces multiple medias, from painting and drawing to video and photography.
although he is based in mexico city, he has done over the last 20 years numerous projects in collaboration with local communities around the world, from south america to north africa and most recently with teenagers at the turkish-armenian border.
he has had solo exhibitions in museums worldwide, such as the moma in new york, tate modern, dia art foundation, macba and many more participations in group shows and biennials. he was awarded the blue orange prize in 2004, the vincent award in 2008 and baca-laureate prize in 2010.