press release

Hirshhorn Presents Video Works by Francis Alÿs in Second Black Box Installation

The Hirshhorn Museum presents a selection of videos by Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Belgium) in the Black Box for film and video works from April 17 through Aug. 15 on the museum’s lower level. An internationally recognized artist who creates much of his work in the streets of major cities, Alÿs is the second artist to be featured in the Black Box following its opening in November. On view is Alÿs’s most recent video works: “Guards” (2004-2005) and “The Nightwatch” (2005). These works will be screened continuously during regular museum hours.

These works were created as part of a five-year project called “Seven Walks,” which delved into the everyday rituals and habits of the city and was organized by the London-based organization Artangel. “The Nightwatch” tracks, via museum surveillance cameras, the wanderings of a fox that was given special permission to roam the Tudor and Georgian rooms of the National Portrait Gallery, London at night. To create “Guards,” the artist spent four years developing strategies for this piece, which features a marching maneuver staged with 64 British Cold Stream Guards. As the guards encounter one another and move through downtown London, their massing and formations evoke dimensions of the modern metropolis: surveillance, pageantry, chaos, conformity and surprise.

Francis Alÿs has lived and worked in Mexico City since 1990 and considers urban settings his “open-air studio” and often focuses on observing and manipulating aspects of everyday life. Since 1991 Alÿs has had numerous solo exhibitions including shows at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.; Museo de Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy; Kunsthalle Zurich, Switzerland; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; and Kunst-Werke, Berlin. He has also participated in international group exhibitions, including “Outlook: International Art Exhibition” in Athens, Greece and “Moving Pictures” at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. Among other commissions, the artist created “When Faith Moves Mountains” (2002), a “land art” project in Lima, Peru.

The Hirshhorn’s Black Box is organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon. Support for the Black Box program is provided by Lawrence A. Cohen/Ringler Associates.

The Hirshhorn continues to explore Alÿs’s work on May 3 at 7 p.m. with In Conversation: Artangel, a talk with Artangel co-director James Lingwood and Hirshhorn associate curator Anne Ellegood. London’s Artangel is internationally acclaimed for its commissions including Francis Alÿs’s “Night Watch.” Taking art out of the conventional spaces of museums and galleries, Artangel’s projects occur in unexpected places and include outdoor sculpture, film, choral performance and historical re-enactment. In Conversation is a series of discussions that explores ideas central to contemporary art through in-depth and lively dialogue.


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Black Box: Francis Alÿs
Video Works