Seven Walks: press coverageThe Independent, 27 November 2005
Art Monthly, November 2005:
"In 1996 Francis Alÿs took a photograph of himself in Mexico City, the place where he has been based for the last 15 years. The image, titled Turista, shows the artist standing in line with two other men, his back against the railings of Zócalo, the city's main square. Alÿs, like the men on his left and right, has a sign by his feet. But while the others list technical professions ('Electrsita', 'Plomero (en general) Gas', 'Pintor y Yesero'), his reads 'Turista'. Alÿs not only looks substantially different from the men standing by him (much taller, with lighter skin, sunglasses and European clothing...), he also has something completely different to offer: no particular skills, just those of a tourist, of a detached, fleeting observer.
"For his current exhibition at 21 Portman Square and the National Portrait Gallery in London, Alÿs has adopted the tourist role again..." (Pablo Lafuente)
The Sunday Times, 18 September 2005:
"It's unsettling. We are in the City of London, and it is all but deserted - the odd bus, the occasional passer-by, a chiming cathedral clock. Very early morning, by the look and sound of it. But a guardsman is wandering about, slightly aimlessly. A proper Coldstream Guard, complete with red coat, bearskin, mirror-polished boots and semi-automatic rifle. He's on parade. Except that he's not. He's alone.
"You never see a lone guardsman. And never out of context, in the streets of the financial district, far from barracks or palace ceremonial duties. He holds his gun slackly by his side. His body language speaks of slight dejection. He stops and stares at the window of Next, as if pondering a switch to smart-casual clothes. He sits on a bench and brushes his bearskin with the rough affection of a man for his dog. The CCTV cameras, you can tell, are worried. He shouldn’t be here. He’s carrying a serious weapon. They pan and tilt to follow him." (Hugh Pearman - click for full article)
Evening Standard, 29 September 2005:
"Best, though, is Guards, for which Alÿs filmed 64 uniformed Coldstream Guards. Each begins wandering the City of London alone, with instructions to fall into formation should he cross a colleague. The individuals coalesce and finally form a full square. The work wittily connects the wealth of the City with Britain's imperial past, its memory preserved in the uniform of the guards." (Nick Hackworth)
The Art Newspaper, October 2005:
"This month sees another nocturnal encounter between art and nature with Francis Alÿs' film of a lone fox roaming the rooms of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), as captured on the NPG's CCTV cameras. However, The Art Newspaper can exclusively reveal that the star of The Nightwatch is no lowly specimen of wild urban fauna unleashed in the capital's halls of culture in the name of art, but an extremely handsome six-year old "professional fox, Bandit by name, who has already appeared in numerous TV programmes including ITV's popular drama series Peak Practice and Midsomer Murders and commercials for Lloyd's bank." (Louisa Buck)
The Financial Times, 4 October 2005:
"The most successful piece consists of two clunking slide projectors, each showing images taken by Alÿs while walking. One sequence is of cold, white blocks of ice on various kerbsides over Mexico City; the other shows cold, white bottles of milk on doorsteps all over London. Mostly, there are no people, just the repetition of incongruously sculptural-looking objects. Again, the notion of the rhythm of the city is present - here, a visual rhythm.
"The places in his photographs are significant not sculpturally but socially. They are boundaries between public and private - whther the private enterprise of selling ice-chilled refreshments, or lives behind closed doors. Although these images are pictures of cities, they are also portraits of the cities' humanity." (Gabriel Coxhead)