Francis Alys – Politics and Irony

Francis Alys work stays in my head afterwards.  There were several works in the recent exhibition at Tate Modern that obliquely looked at Mexican politics, (Alys lives in Mexico city), and how each new wave of politicians rides in promising the world but the people who live there have come to terms with the fact that nothing will change.  The first piece, on a 16mm film loop, was called ‘A Story of Deception’ 2003-2006.  as the viewer watches we travel along this road in the desert towards the lake, which is a mirage and always disappears as we get closer.

A Story of Deception 2003, Francis Alys.

Another film by Alys addressed an event in 1968 in Mexico City when civil servants where paraded in the city to show support for the government, but made sheep noises to show their opposition.  Alys is filmed parading a group of sheep around the cental flagpole in Mexico city’s ceremonial square.  The film shows Alys starting by leading one sheep, and then another joins in and then another, until the circle is complete, and then one by one the sheep disappear.  This must have been hellish to organise as the sheep are not tied together at all; what stopped these creatures from the countryside taking fright and heading off in all directions amongst the hideously busy mexico city traffic.. must have been a huge feet of planning and co-ordination.

Patriotic Tales 1997, Francis Alys