Francis Alÿs, When Faith Moves Mountains (making of), 2002, 15:09 minutes (looped), copyright Francis Alÿs. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London/Hong Kong
Modern Art Oxford presents a special one-day screening of Francis Alÿs acclaimed documentary video When Faith Moves Mountains.
For this collaborative intervention Alÿs assembled a line of five hundred volunteers armed with shovels along a large sand dune on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Over the course of a day the sand dune was moved by several inches. The action was a response to the social tension and clashes on the streets that Alÿs witnessed during an earlier visit to Lima during the last three months of the Fujimori dictatorship (28 July 1990 – 22 November 2000).
The principle that motivated When Faith Moves Mountains was ‘maximum effort, minimal result’, a common concern for protest movements. The action can also be seen as a social allegory, with the literal and symbolic moving of a mountain suspending belief and living on as anecdote and myth, as well as a testament to collective action and community.
Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerp, Belgium) uses poetic and allegorical methods to address political and social realities, such as national borders, localism and globalism, areas of conflict and community, and the benefits and detriments of progress. Alÿs’s personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, Alÿs has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography.