artist / participant

press release

With A Story of Deception / Historia de un desengaño. Patagonia 2003-2006 by Francis Alÿs, Malba – Colección Costantini presents the first exhibition of the renowned Belgian-Mexican artist in Argentina. The project, for which Alÿs has worked together with Malba since 2003, involves the shooting of a mirage—a metaphor for the unreachable, for something that vanishes eternally—on a highway in Patagonia. “With this unprecedented project, Malba launches a program through which different artists will be invited to produce a work that will become part of our permanent collection,” explains Eduardo F. Costantini, Jr., Executive Director of the museum.

The work is born of a story that fascinated the artist during his geographical-historical research of Argentina: to hunt the ñandú (rhea), the Tehuelche Indians walked hundreds of kilometers after the animal until it was exhausted. “I was struck by the absolute simplicity of the technique and the idea of using walking as a weapon, as a means of hunting. I wanted to see if through this anecdote I might be able to illustrate and explore my own ways of operating,” writes Alÿs. In one of his journeys, though, the artist decided that the anecdote was more powerful as a story than as an image. Almost unexpectedly, he discovered in the scenery certain mirages that appeared and disappeared, providing a more direct representation of his search. As the artist says: “What immediately seduced me about the endless flight of the mirages was how they materialized something that I had been investigating in earlier pieces: mainly, that very Latin American situation in which developm ent programs act as a kind of mirage (…)”

On January 27, 2006, Francis Alÿs left Buenos Aires in route to Patagonia. He was accompanied by Olivier Debroise (curator and critic, who lives in Mexico and accompanied the artist from the project’s beginning), Rafael Ortega (Mexican artist and filmmaker) and Martín Mohamed (Argentine camera assistant).

"I see each piece as another episode in a much broader narrative, as part of a personal investigation into the relationship between Latin America and the concept of production, the dogma of efficiency and large-scale programs or the promises of development,” explains Alÿs. He goes on: “Story of Deception is my response to the Argentina that I encountered in the month of August, 2003. At that time the heroes had fallen into disgrace, it ‘s true. But it was also a time when society knew that it had bottomed out and, from then on, all it could do was move ahead (…)”


only in german

Francis Alÿs. A Story of Deception / Historia de un desengaño.
Patagonia 2003-2006