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Hirshhorn Presents Video Works by Francis Alÿs

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Media only:
Donna Drew Sawyer (202) 633-4765, sawyerd@si.edu
Gabriel Einsohn (202) 633-2822, einsohng@si.edu

Public only:
(202) 633-1000, www.hirshhorn.si.edu 

The Hirshhorn Museum presents a selection of recent videos by Francis Alÿs (b. Belgium, 1959) from April 17 through September 2006. Between 2002 and 2005, the artist explored London to develop “Seven Walks,” commissioned by Artangel, London, where the project debuted in 2005. The exhibition at the Hirshhorn includes two videos from the project: “Guards” (2004-2005), a projection of a marching maneuver where 64 Coldstream guards converge as their regiment moves through downtown London, which will be shown in the museum’s Black Box space for new media. “Shoeshine” (2005), a work screened on a television monitor just outside of the Black Box, documents preparations for “Guards.” The “walk” in “Guards” contrasts the pageantry and tradition associated with this historic city with a modern development-the omnipresence of surveillance cameras. “Guards” is 28 minutes and screens continuously during regular museum hours. 

An internationally acclaimed artist based in Mexico City, Alÿs has remarked that he considers urban settings his “open air studio” and that his exploration of cities on foot are as central to his process as sketching. His works range from paintings and installations to performance works, however the artist is best known for staging enactments involving contrived navigations of public spaces. Trained as an architect and engineer, Alÿs is fascinated by the incidental details and essence of street life as well as by the physical structures that define it. 

Since 1991, Alÿs has had numerous solo exhibitions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo de Arte Contemporanea in Torino, Italy; Kunsthalle in Zurich, Switzerland; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; and Kunst-Werke in Berlin, Germany. He has also participated in international group exhibitions such as “Outlook: International Art Exhibition” in Athens, Greece and “Moving Pictures” at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, which later debuted at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. 

The Black Box presentation at the Hirshhorn is organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon. Support for the Black Box program is provided in part by Lawrence A. Cohen/Ringler Associates. 

Alÿs’s “Seven Walks” and other projects will be further explored on May 3 at 7 p.m. with In Conversation: Artangel, a discussion between Artangel co-director James Lingwood and Hirshhorn associate curator Anne Ellegood. Artangel’s projects occur in unexpected places and include outdoor sculpture, film, choral performance and historical reenactment. In Conversation is a series of discussions at the Hirshhorn focused on exploring ideas central to contemporary art through in-depth and lively dialogue. Media covering this event may reserve a seat by contacting Gabriel Einsohn. 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, includes more than 11,500 paintings, sculptures, film, video, mixed media installations and works on paper. The museum maintains an active exhibition program and offers free public programs that explore the art of our time. The Hirshhorn, located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free.
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