During the 5th Havana Biennial, artist Francis Alys put on his magnetic shoes and took daily walks through the streets of the city, collecting scraps of metal lying in his path. The resulting video is mesmerizing, charming, dreamy, relaxing, thought-provoking, and a beautiful quiet commentary on walking a city.

We’ve never read a better description of what walking is in modern urban life than in this excerpt from Russel Ferguson’s interview with Alys for the monograph Francis Alys:

Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling, is already – within the speed culture of our time – a kind of resistance. Paradoxically it’s also the last private space, safe from the phone or e-mail. But it also happens to be a very immediate method for unfolding stories. It’s an easy, cheap act to perform or to invite others to perform. The walk is simultaneously the material out of which to produce art and the modus operandi of the artistic transaction. And the city always offers the perfect setting for accidents to happen. There is no theory of walking, just a consciousness. But there can be a certain wisdom involved in the act of walking. It’s more an attitude, and it is one that fits me all right. It’s a state where you can be both alert to all that happens in your peripheral vision and hearing, and yet totally lost in your thought process.


Thanks Maureen!

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4 replies on “Francis Alys’ Magnetic Shoes, “Walking is a Kind of Resistance”

  1. after seeing this i went down the rabbit hole of francis alys’s work on youtube…should be mandatory viewing for young and old.

  2. Yeah, although I’d posted something of his years ago, I’d forgotten about him. When I found his website, I went down that illuminating rabbit hole too. I plan to post more of his videos here and there, as they work on so many levels and are so expansive.

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