A man lies asleep on a staircase in front of a house or shop entrance. His head is lying on a black rubbish bag.

Sleepers III

Francis Alÿs

  • Year 2003
  • Edition Edition 2/4 (+ 1 a.p. + 1 e.c.)
  • Material/Technique Single-channel slide projection (80 35 mm slides)
  • Dimensions Projection size max. h 80 cm or w 80 cm
  • Length ca. 2' 40''
  • Category Media Art
  • Collection Sammlung Goetz, Medienkunst, München

The slide installation Sleepers III (2003) takes us to Francis Alÿs’s adopted home, Mexico. The Belgian artist (*1959) first traveled there as a young engineer in 1987, following his studies in architecture. Alÿs went to Mexico to work on an aid project established by the Belgian government in the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake that same year. On long walks through the city center, Alÿs fell in love with the chaotic metropolis that was home to millions. He began to document his impressions artistically in the 1990s. "The chaos, the mixture of historical buildings and the mundane, the plethora of merchants and street vendors who dominate the cityscape—unlike in any city in Europe—had practically created a parallel economy, something that fascinated me from the start", stated he in an interview.

Sleepers III (2003) is part of a slide series that the artist began in 1997 and continued to expand on. It includes 80 slides of people and dogs sleeping in public spaces. The creatures lie oblivious to themselves on park benches, in building entrances or on the ground. These individuals are not just homeless people and stray dogs, but also middle-class citizens, who may be resting or taking a time out after an overly lavish meal or a night of partying. Some lie motionless, as if dead. The series could easily be read as a social commentary by the artist, but the images also possess humorous elements and convey a gentle poetry. Alÿs recorded the sleepers from a low camera position—almost at eye level. The unusual perspective captures not only a very intimate view of the sleepers, but also results in unusual views of the urban space.

The 80 small-format slide images from Sleepers III are presented at short intervals by a carousel slide projector onto a small projection surface on the floor. In his solo exhibition at the Sammlung Goetz in 2008, Alÿs presented the work under a landing in the museum's basement, as if by chance. "Each of my interventions is another fragment of the story that I depict", says Alÿs. "Everything in my city is temporary."

Francis Alÿs

160 Seiten, 139 Abb., Hardcover
2008, Kunstverlag Ingvild Goetz GmbH, Hamburg
ISBN 978-3-939894-10-0
€ 25,00

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