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Francis Alys: A Story of Deception Opens at Tate Modern
Francis Als in collaboration with Cuauhtmoc Medina and Rafael Ortega, When Faith Moves Mountains (Cuando la fe mueve montaas), Lima, 2002. Video and photographic documentation of an action, 'making of' video and related ephemera, Video 36 minutes, 'making of' video 15 minutes. Courtesy of Francis Als and David Zwirner, New York. Image by: Video still Francis Als.

LONDON.- Tate Modern will present a major exhibition of work by the celebrated artist Francis Als (born Belgium 1959). Using diverse poetical and allegorical approaches, Als explores political subjects such as contentious borders and economic crises. The exhibition will present iconic works alongside new pieces which have never been shown before in the UK. Working in a variety of mediums including painting, video projection, animation and sculpture, Francis Als is one of the most important artists of his generation.

Francis Als’s work often starts with a simple act, either by him or others, which is then documented in a range of media. Working in urban settings and dramatic landscapes, he creates interventions which frequently address a historical or political concern attached to a specific site. Als moved to Mexico City in the mid 1980s at a time of political unrest. He began to make work which recorded every day life there, capturing images of street sleepers and workers. In Paradox of Praxis 1 1997 Als pushed a block of ice around Mexico City until it melted. The work stood as an allegory about failed modernisation strategies in the region and dramatised the idea of applying maximum effort for minimum results.

Als has carried out actions across Latin America, addressing economic and political crises through extraordinary acts. When Faith Moves Mountains 2002 is described by Als as ‘land art for the landless’.The work involved organising a line of 500 Peruvian students walking over a sand dune in Lima, digging as they went, shifting the dune by a few centimetres. While the alteration of the mountain was minimal, the event explored the power of communal action. The exhibition will also feature The Green Line 2004. Over two days, Als walked through Jerusalem trailing a line of green paint from a can as he paced along the route of the armistice border, known as ‘the green line’, drawn between Israel and Jordan in 1948. In this work he questioned whether a poetic act could have relevance in a highly charged political situation.

Alongside video and film installations, the exhibition will include Francis Als’s dream-like paintings Le Temps du Sommeil 1996-present and different objects that he makes with various fabricators in Mexico. The exhibition closes with the first ever display of Als’s powerful video Tornado 2000-10.

Francis Als was born in Belgium in 1959. His work has been included in biennials including So Paulo (1998, 2005), Istanbul (1999, 2001) and Venice (1999, 2001, 2007). He has had solo exhibitions at major international institutions including the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2004) and the UCLA Hammer (2007). Francis Als: A Story of Deception is curated by Mark Godfrey, Curator, Tate Modern and Kerryn Greenberg, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with WIELS where it will be curated by Dirk Snauwaert and The Museum of Modern Art, New York where it will be curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Cara Starke.

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