November 21, 2016 - Art Gallery of Ontario - Francis Alÿs: A Story of Negotiation
November 21, 2016

Art Gallery of Ontario

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Julien Devaux, Felix Blume, Ivan Boccara, Abbas Benhim, Fundación Montenmedio Arte and the kids of Tangier and Tarifa, Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, 2008. 2-channel video projection, 7:44 minutes, color, sound. © 2016 Francis Alÿs. Photo: Roberto Rubalcava.

Francis Alÿs
A Story of Negotiation
December 8, 2016–April 2, 2017

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West
Toronto Ontario M5T 1G4

Creating art that is equal parts political and poetic, beautiful and absurd, Francis Alÿs (Belgian, born 1959) engages directly with urgent social issues, from the war in Afghanistan to border politics around the world.

Organized in conjunction with the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City and making its only Canadian stop in Toronto, A Story of Negotiation surveys some of Alÿs’s most significant projects of the last two decades. At the centre of this exhibition are three films: Tornado (2000–10), in which he chases dust devils in the Mexican countryside; Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River (2008), an intervention across the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Africa and Europe; and REEL-UNREEL (2011), a poignant look at contemporary Afghanistan. Each of these large-scale video works is amplified by a selection of Alÿs’s paintings and drawings. His intimately-scaled paintings explore the tension between politics and poetics and connect to his performative actions.

Curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina with Kitty Scott, the AGO’s Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, A Story of Negotiation explores Alÿs’s political engagement and fascination with conflict. Installed on the fifth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower, the show pairs each film with a related collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures.

One of the most compelling artists working today, Alÿs offers a thought-provoking point of view on the times in which we live, raising issues and articulating approaches that allow us to engage our world with new perspectives.

Please join us on Wednesday, December 6 for a free exhibition preview and public opening reception, taking place in Walker Court from 6–9pm. This event will be preceded by a free Curator’s talk with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Q & A with Francis Alÿs. Visit the website for further details.

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Negotiation is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members. Visit the website for more information on AGO Membership.

About Francis Alÿs
Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium, Alÿs originally trained as an architect. He moved to Mexico City in 1986, where he continues to live and work, and it was the confrontation with issues of urbanization and social unrest in his new country of adoption that inspired his decision to become a visual artist. Alÿs produces paintings and drawings to accompany his large-scale video projects which include chasing the whirlwinds in southern Mexico City (Tornado, 2000-2010), his mythological intervention of the crossing of the border between Africa and Europe at the Strait of Gibraltar (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, 2008), and the war of images taking place in Afghanistan (REEL-UNREEL, 2011). These projects pose distinctive modalities of how to formulate a “beyond” of usual pictorial practice, in order to glimpse the ways in which the imagination and works on canvas and paper can serve broader sets of reflection.

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Emilio Rivera, Daniel Toxqui, Julien Devaux, Elena Pardo, Rafael Ortega, Felix Blume and Raul Ortega.

Organized by the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo and the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C.

Generously supported by


Robert Harding and Angel Yang
Nadir and Shabin Mohamed
Jay Smith and Laura Rapp 

With assistance from                                     

The Jack Weinbaum Foundation
Elisa Nuyten and David Dime

Art Gallery of Ontario
Share - Francis Alÿs
A Story of Negotiation
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York