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Francis Alÿs, Artist with a Timely Interest in Borders, Will Represent Belgium at 2022 Venice Biennale

Alex Greenberger

Alex GreenbergerJune 15, 2020 4:53pm

Francis Alÿs.
Francis Alÿs. GEORGIOS KEFALAS/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Venice Biennale has been pushed back a year, from next year to 2022, but that has not stopped Belgium—which has often presented one of the most talked-about pavilions at the biennial—from revealing its plans. Artist Francis Alÿs has been selected to represent Belgium for the forthcoming edition, according to the Belgian publication De Tijd. Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona, will oversee the pavilion.

The 2022 Belgian Pavilion will not be Alÿs’s first major presentation at the Venice Biennale. In 2017, Alÿs, who is based in Mexico City, was among the artists commissioned to show in the Iraq Pavilion, for which he exhibited a work about a refugee camp. According to De Tijd, Alÿs’s Belgian Pavilion will broach similar subject matter, with new work developed from his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Soccer, which featured children playing a sport that the Islamic State has attempted to forbid in Iraq. Alÿs also figured in the main exhibitions of the Venice Biennale in 1999, 2001, and 2007.

Alÿs’s work has been acclaimed for the way it has dealt with borders and conflict. Working primarily in film and video, he has boldly addressed political issues, often through metaphorical means. For his famed REEL-UNREEL (2011), made in collaboration with filmmaker Julien Devaux and architect Ajmal Maiwandi, he showed a film reel being rolled through Kabul, Afghanistan, as a reflection on how it was virtually impossible to represent a firsthand experience of war there.

“Francis Alÿs deals with history, current events, and location in an impressive way, both during the creation and the presentation,” the Belgium Pavilion’s jury said in a statement to De Tijd.

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