Monday, May 7, 2018

Francis Alÿs | Ghetto Collector

Francis Alÿs
Ghetto Collector
Zurich, Switzerland: Parkett Editions, 2003
15 x 24 x 13.8 cm.
Edition of 99 signed and numbered copies

Francis Alÿs' 1991 work The Collector was a performance in which the artist walked through the streets of Mexico City pulling a small toy dog behind him, on wheels. The object was magnetized and  - over the course of the journey - collected metallic debris as a kind of souvenir.

The Ghetto Collector for Parkett #69 is made of tin, magnets, plastic string and rubber wheels. There are 25 design variations.

“Each of Alÿs’s disturbances in the normal traffic patterns of everyday life spans a portion of the city, most involve a process of accumulation or depletion, all are willful, deadpan, understated, and efficient with regard to their apparent aimlessness. And, whether documented in videos or photos, all are visually memorable.”
- Robert Storr, Parkett #69

"I discovered fables in the early ’80s, while studying in Venice. My interest was related to certain urban contexts, places which I felt were impossible to intervene in physically, whose history felt untouchable. It seemed that the only way to have any interference or dialogue with their history and their daily life, of stirring up their inertia, was by introducing a narrative or a fable as if it were a verbal virus. The idea came up to intervene in the place’s imagination without adding any physical matter to it, but instead playing at the level of metaphor or allegory. I think the first experiments with that concept were my walks for The Collector, from 1990–92. I’d walk around the streets of Mexico City’s Centro Histórico with a toy of sorts made of magnets on wheels. After three days people started talking about the crazy gringo walking around with his magnetized dog, but after seven days, the story, the anecdote, had remained even though the characters were gone. That’s how I started developing the idea of introducing tales and fables into a place’s history at a particular moment of its local history. This became a potential method to interact with places that I stumbled upon during those years, mainly in Mexico City, but also outside, as when I tried to spread a rumor in the town of Tlayacapan, Morelos."
- Francis Alÿs

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