Monday, 13 September 2010
Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic
What sort of artist Francis Alys is? What is his artistic discipline? I was trying hard to explain to a friend when I got back from exhibition at Tate Modern. Nope, not a painter, not a pianist, not even a photographer. Hmm I guess the closest I could figure out was that he is an artist of society. Socartist. His work come from observation of culture, society and tensions that exist within them. He's work comes from translating political into poetic. From exposing extraordinary in ordinary. Born in Belgium he lives and works in Lima. He's done couple of spectacular things - like a project about moving dunnes. He convinced hunderds of students to get together and do something that is purely impossible - move amazingly huge dunne. Larger than village, larger than anything that could be seen in horizon. A spectacular example of human collaboration that could be stronger and more powerful than nature, than frustration. And estetically beautiful.
For personal reasons, the most interesting out of his projects was the film called Green Line. Breathtaking documentary where he tries to recrate The Green Line. The line, drawn in 47 (likely) that was supposed to divide Palestine into two independent countries. Alys takes a green paint, makes a hole in the can and walks along the original green line - he starts his joureny well before Jerusalem, corssing Old Town, Jewish Quater, Arabic Quater, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Villages, posh Israeli neighbourhoods, Jewish Orthodox District. His journey makes the viewer think about the complexity of borders - its power to create here and there, to divide, to mark us from the other - but also, in a strange way, a complicty, collaboration of the two sides. It becomes very clear that one side cannot exist without the other. What's the most amazing is that actually we see more than one film. In his trial to portray many different points of veiw, variety of simultaneous narratives that are emerging from recration of the green line - he recorded 12 different voice overs. Each of them marks a conversation that happened spontanously when he presented the film to different people - Jews and Palestinians, architects, campagner, fighters, people living there ... and elswhere. So we hear 12 stories commenting the same footage - different feelings, different angles, different ways of resolving the conflict .. and the same one hope.
If there is one single thing I could ever done in my life - this would be it. Absolutely stunning.