A Story of Deception
09/02/06 - 10/15/06
The exhibition of Francis Alys (*1959 Antwerp/Belgium) A Story of Deception shows the film of the same name that originated from a collaboration with Olivier Debroise and Rafael Ortega in Patagonia in spring, 2006. The Project began in 2003 with the intent to follow up on a story that Alys had heard while undertaking historical-geographical research in the Argentinian Pampa. The story tells how the Tehuelche people from Patagonia congregate seasonally to track flocks of the local flightless birds nandus over hundreds of kilometres until the nandu would collapse from exhaustion. "I was fascinated by the absolute simplicity of the technique, and of course the use of walking as a weapon, as a hunting method " . Alys has already used walking exclusively as a medium in many of his earlier works where movement evokes situations with unexpected twists and turns. In this current project, instead of realising an image from this story, Alys has used the narrative's metaphorical function as a starting point.
While shifting through his collected film and photographic materials, illusions became visible on the horizon of a dusty, endless highway. Alys followed this phenomenon of atmospheric refraction as he attempted to capture the ever-vanishing vantage point and what lies behind it in the picture frame. The approximately two minute long 16mm film shows nothing more than a trip along a highway, where the incessantly blurring horizon has been displaced by the heat, and therefore appears visually unreachable. The mirage lies at a tangible distance on the horizon only for a moment before it vanishes again. "Without the movement of the viewer/observer, the mirage would be nothing more than an inert stain, merely an optical vibration in the landscape." This illusion only arises through our progress and our attempts to come closer to the mirage. What interests Francis Alys in this work is precisely this in-between sphere, the movement as a medium and tool. In the mechanism of the mirages the artist sees the materialization of "that very Latin American scenario where development programs tend to function in precisely the manner of a mirage, a historical goal that vanishes perpetually into thin air as soon as it looms into the horizon" .
Documentation material underlying Alys' methodical approach to the film has been displayed in vitrines. Contrary to the original plan of realising a picture based on the tracking of the nandu, the actual materialisation of the idea was coincidental.
The work was shown from April to June 2006 for the first time at Malba - Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires.
Supported by Hessische Kultur Stiftung