Francis Alÿs – kathmandu triennale

Artist Profile

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Artwork Description

Paradox of Praxis 1, 1997

Mexico based artist Francis Alÿs is the Patron Artist of the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale. In most of his works the artist connects an idea of performance or an ‘action’ with urban environments. ‘Paradox of Praxis 1’ (1997) is an action carried out under the rubric of “sometimes making something leads to nothing.” For more than nine hours, Alÿs pushed a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melts completely. And so for hour after hour he struggles with the quintessentially minimal rectangular block until finally it is reduced to no more than an ice cube suitable for a whisky on the rocks, so small that he could casually kick it along the street. With a simple, almost absurd gesture the artist brings forth a poetic understanding of a city. Walking or moving around in a city as a form of thinking.


Patan Walk (walks in cities)

Almost every day the artist has been walking through the city of Kathmandu. He literally took the city as his studio, as his working ground. Walking is a way of thinking, living, observing. With this mural work the artist made a kind of inventory of the acts that happened during the walk. The artist made a list of things he did in a certain order of events. The text is both in English and Nepali. The artist wishes to thanks the efforts of Rahul Thapa, his ambassador, but most of all a fellow artist with whom he has been discovering Kathmandu.


Through out his practice, Francis Alÿs consistently directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns centered around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life, which the artist himself has described as “a sort of discursive argument composed of episodes, metaphors, or parables.” His multifaceted projects including public actions, installations, video, paintings, and drawings have involved traveling the longest possible route between locations in Mexico and the United States; pushing a melting block of ice through city streets; commissioning sign painters to copy his paintings; filming his efforts to enter the center of a tornado; carrying a leaking can of paint along the contested Israel/Palestine border; and equipping hundreds of volunteers to move a colossal sand dune ten centimeters.