The Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai will present the first large-scale solo exhibition in China by the Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs, “La dépense,” from November 9, 2018 to February 24, 2019, curated by Yuko Hasegawa.
One of the most influential artists of the contemporary period, Francis Alÿs lives and works in Mexico City. Arriving there in 1986 armed with an architectural education, Alÿs began to make works that revolved around the city’s distinctive local culture, history, and society, ultimately expanding his artistic inquiry to a range of locations around the world that he has traveled to and spent time getting to know. With his acute poetic and imaginative powers of perception, Alÿs raises questions about anthropology and geopolitics, creating works from his close observations of everyday life. He has had numerous major exhibitions, including at the Tate Modern in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, among many others. La dépense, the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in China, will present close to 1300 works, including drafts, videos, sketches, paintings, drawings, and other preparatory works, some of which have never been seen by the public before, offering a rare glimpse into the artist’s working methods.
The exhibition’s title La dépense, which translates as “consumption,” refers in particular to the theories of French philosopher Georges Bataille. As the curator Yuko Hasegawa notes: “In a China transformed by a fast-paced transition to capitalism and the efficiencies of technology, excessively ‘non-productive consumption’ (dépense improductive) is just as important in human activity as productive consumption.” Such a notion is tightly wound into Alÿs’ artistic practice, which Hasegawa commends for “courageously grappling with the status quo; casting doubts on our visual sense; rethinking the meaning of the labor of manual work and what it means to consume time: these are among the subtle messages from Alÿs’ work that can be applied to the situation in China.”
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