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Francis Al˙s

Francis Al˙s, Awarded the 2018 EYE Art & Film Prize
EYE Filmmuseum and the Paddy and Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund


On April 5, the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam declared Francis Alÿs winner of the 2018 EYE Art & Film Prize, a recognition granted every year to an artist/filmmaker who makes a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary field of film and the visual arts. The winner receives a purse of 25,000.00 euros (approximately USD 35,000.00).

In a statement issued on behalf of the jury, Sandra den Hamer, director of the EYE Filmmuseum, said: "Conceptual artist Francis Alÿs draws from a strongly poetic and imaginative sensitivity to observe and probe political and social realities, such as those encountered along national borders and in conflict regions. The jury was very impressed by an honest and sensitive work that displays Alÿs's personal and sometimes playful exploration of cities and urban areas."

Sandra den Hamer headed the jury formed by fashion designer, art collector and patron Agnès B.; director and curator of the Associação Cultural Videobrasil Solange Farkas; Senior curator of international art of the Tate Modern Andrea Lissoni; artist Aernout Mik; trustee of the PJLF Arts Fund, producer, and screen writer Olivia Stewart; and artist/film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Francis Alÿs was born in Belgium in 1959 and has been based in México since 1986. He is an artist recognized for films, photographs, drawings, and videos that address borders and their effects in the community. His work usually begins with a walk through the city, which often implies the inclusion of a sort of performance in his projects, like in the video titled Paradox of Praxis 1: Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing. The video features Alÿs pushing a block of ice through Mexico City for nine hours, until the block is completely melted. This act is also reflected in a piece created in 2016, when he spent nine days embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga troops outside Mosul, in Iraq. The video Untitled (Mosul, Iraq, October 31, 2016) was presented in the Iraqi pavilion of the Venice Biennale. 

Alÿs is known as the "architect of the absurd" because of the recurrent references to Sisyphus works that are present in projects like Faith Moves Mountains (2002). For that project, he recruited the help of 500 volunteers to move a sand dune two inches from its original location. Alÿs has presented solo shows in venues like the Tate Modern in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others.

About the award, Alÿs said, "When this sort of thing happens to you it makes you feel as if you are heading in the right direction." He also told Lauren Cavalli of that he plans to use the prize money to return to Iraq, where he plans to record three or four videos.

While Alÿs is one of the most respected artists today working with moving images, he is very open about his lack of knowledge of the medium. "Cinema is something that I do not know at all," he told ARTnews in a 2013 profile. "I adore it, but it is not my language."

Artist Francis Alÿs becomes the fourth recipient of the EYE Art & Film Prize. His predecessors are Hito Steyerl, Ben Rivers, and Wang Bing.




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