Past Exhibition

Francis Alÿs: The Logbook of Gibraltar

August 31 – November 4, 2011

Art Sonje Center 2 -3F

Francis Alÿs: The Logbook of Gibraltar

Art Sonje Center presents Francis Alÿs’ first solo exhibition in Korea, titled The Logbook of Gibraltar from 31st August to 4th November 2018. In the exhibition, Alÿs presents the geopolitical issues in regions where conflicts regarding national borders persist, centering around Havana (Cuba), Key West (U.S.), and the Strait of Gibraltar between the African and European continents, through his typical metaphoric and poetic language.

Francis Alÿs was born in Belgium and moved to Mexico to participate in the international aid movement in the aftermath of the great earthquake in 1986. He later permanently relocates to Mexico and pursues his artistic career there. His work was indirect, performative commentaries on his observations on Mexico and other Latin American cities and their society, as well as their aspirations for modernization. Later, from the mid-90s, he expands to carry out projects in many countries around the world, including his recent works, in which he questions the concepts of national borders and boundaries, and illustrates the contemporary paradox of putting up institutional walls to keep each other out while endorsing “globalization”.

Bridge/Puente(2006), the first of Alÿs’ Bridge projects is a commentary on the tension between the Cuban immigrants and the U.S. Immigration authorities and is a documentary that records the attempt to build a metaphorical bridge between the United States and Cuba using fishing boats from both countries. The fishermen from each community leave their respective coasts to line up their boats thereby creating the illusion of a floating bridge that connects the two continents. The participants from the two countries are not aware of the entire plan of the project, and the film depicts how this special and peculiar act is interpreted and understood among them.

Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River (2008) which is installed on two screens facing each other on the second floor, is Alÿs’ second bridge project that he carries out at the Strait of Gibraltar, a key strategic area, and center of tension and conflict among the world powers. Its width which is only 13 km could hypothetically make it possible to connect Africa and Europe with boats, and this idea is coupled with children’s imagination and poetic gesture. In this project, children from Spain and Morocco start from each side of the coast with boats made of shoes in hand to attempt to meet on the horizon. Unlike Bridge/ Puente where there was a hefty dose of tension among the participants, here the children playfully participate with innocent curiosity, and joyfully walk towards the waves. Making boats out of shoes instead of physical bridges and fishing boats and making the children walk towards the horizon like giants floating the boats on the waves is a fable that diffuses the unnatural borders that is created by the world of adults.

This exhibition also presents Francis Alÿs’ recent works, including 20 paintings, video works and installations such as Painting/Retoque (2008), a film that follows the process of repainting the weathered centerline on the road of the Panama Canal Zone as a metaphor for the symbolic divide that determined the destiny of North and South America; Children’s Game #2: Ricochets (2007) that documents children skipping rocks in Tangier, a Moroccan city on the Strait of Gibraltar; and The Loop (1997), a reaction to the United States’ ever tightening immigration policies. Alÿs records his 29-day journey around the globe from Mexico to the United States without ever crossing the Mexico-U.S. border by moving in the opposite direction, starting from Tijuana, going through Santiago, Panama, Sidney, Bangkok, and Anchorage, then finally to San Diego, California. Through these works, Alÿs poses questions on the meaning of borders that are ever so common in our contemporary world.

Talk – As if it was a bridge: Ways of Regarding the Line in the Work of Francis Alÿs  

Date: 30 August 2018, Thu, 4 pm
Venue: Art Hall (B1)
Lecturer: Young Min Moon (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Admission: Free

* The talk will be followed by Q & A with Francis Alÿs.
* Korean-English translation will be provided.

The visible or suggestive lines that Francis Alÿs leaves behind in his actions are invariably oriented in and around specific sites in which political bodies inhabit. This talk explores the various meanings of the line in Alÿs’ work as well as the nuanced positions he occupies as an observer-participant in the world.


About the Artist

Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico City in 1986, where he continues to live and work. Throughout his practice, Alÿs consistently directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns centered around observations of, and engagements with everyday life.

Over the past decade, he had exhibitions at prominent venues, including Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (2017); the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) – Fundación Costantini in Buenos Aires (2017); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana in Havana (2017); the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (2015); documenta 13 (2012); The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (2011); and Tate Modern, London (2010).

For more information on the artist’s video projects:

August 31 – November 4, 2011
Art Sonje Center 2 -3F
Francis Alÿs
Organized by
Art Sonje Center
Curated by
Sunjung Kim(President, Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
Supported by
Maeil Dairies Co. Ltd, Embassy of Belgium
Assisted by
Heehyun Cho(Assistant Curator, Art Sonje Center)