Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing), 1997
Documentation of an action, Mexico City
Video, 5 min., color, sound

Exhibition view:
“Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal”, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2007

This action was the synthesis of several themes explored by Alÿs during the mid-1990s, and a decisive moment in his attempt to reflect on the underlying logic of the peripheral economies of the South. The performance is a parody of the massive disproportion between effort and result in much of Latin American life, at the same time as it is a settling of scores with the aesthetics of the minimalist object. By pushing a block of ice around the centre of Mexico City for more than nine hours until he was left with nothing but a small puddle of water, Alÿs alluded to the seemingly unproductive hardship involved in the daily survival tactics of most people in the region. The block, identical to the thousands that are delivered every morning to street businesses all around the city, was also a sly means to symbolise the melting of the generic object of contemporary art.

Photo: Joshua White

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