The string, stretching nearly to the ground floor, some fifty feet below, looked gnarled all along its length. But when you got close, you could see that the gnarls were actually tidy knots of various kinds; and walking up the stairs to the second-floor landing, you found these knots depicted on three small documents, the sorts of things you might see on the wall at a sailing club. Yet here each knot was identified not by its name but as a symbol of a particular movement: Instead of "bowline," "overhand," etc., the labels read, I WALK STRAIGHT, I TURN LEFT, and so on. By treating the string as a code and these illustrations as its key, you could work out the path of the walk that was pearing into sunlight above and darkness below. Here was a work that provided the tools for its own decryption while making any comprehensive interpretation impossible: a neat allegory for Alÿs's recent practice. — Mark Godfrey, Art Forum, May 2006.
Over five years Francis Alÿs walked the streets of London, mapping its habits and rituals in a range of different media, and the ensuing films, videos, paintings and drawings were presented as Seven Walks at 21 Portman Square in 2005 for the artist’s first major solo exhibition in the UK. Amongst these works was Knots, an installation of rope, accompanied by 3 pencil drawings.
Image: Francis Alÿs, Knots, 2005. Photograph: © Francis Alÿs
Colchester, 30 September - 30 November 2013
In the autumn of 2013, Knots was installed at Art Exchange as part of an exhibition of Francis Alÿs' project Seven Walks. The works in Seven Walks were developed by Alÿs over 5 years, and delved into the everyday rituals and habits of the metropolis. This exhibition at Art Exchange was accompanied by a symposium, which expanded on the themes of Alÿs' explorations of the city, and featured speakers TJ Demos, James Lingwood, Andrés Montenegro, Marina Warner and Richard Wentworth. The discussion was chaired by Dawn Ades.
Image: Exhibition guide for Seven Walks at Art Exchange, 2013.
Manchester, 2 July - 4 September 2011
Knots featured in 'Projections', an exhibition of four moving image projects from The Artangel Collection, shown within the context of the Whitworth, its collection, and the park that it shares with the city of Manchester.
Image: Installation view of Francis Alÿs's Seven Walks at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, 2011. Photograph: Michael Pollard