Children’s Games (Chateau du Sable) (2009)
Francis Alÿs poetically comments the major political questions of our time. His works have confronted topics such as the grey labour market and homelessness in his native Mexico City, the modernisation programmes in Latin America, the Israeli/Palestine conflict and immigration routes between Africa and Europe. He does this, for instance, by making small oil paintings of the newly-built wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank, or by getting hundreds of students to move a mountain of sand a few centimeters, or by walking alone, or organising processions. Alÿs has said that the poetic act gives us distance – it makes us take a step back, for a moment, from the situation. And this short moment can make us see things differently.
Francis Alÿs has been documenting children’s games since 2008. When children play, they are not only symbolising their own time and culture. Children’s games are remarkably similar all over the world – it is as though they are able to overcome the isolation between nations and cultures that has been created by, for instance, colonial violence. According to Alÿs, children’s games also represent an alternative attitude to time and continuity. In short, children’s games are their own poetry.
The Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art feature Children’s Games (Chateau du Sable) from 2009. Three boys are busily engaged in building a castle on the beach. They enjoy working together and seeing something grow – before they laughingly abandon it to the sea and the waves that wash it all away.
Biography Francis Alÿs was born in 1959 in Belgium. He lives and works in Mexico. Alÿs studied architecture at the Institut d'Architecture de Tournai in Belgium and at the Instituto Universitario di architettura in Venice. His works have been exhibited at Tate Modern in London, The Messenger Biennale in Marrakech and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Photo: Hendrik Zeitler