Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River

Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco-Spain, 2008; 7:46 min
In collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Julien Devaux, Felix Blume, Ivan Boccara, Abbas Benhim, Fundación Montenmedio Arte and the kids of Tangier and Tarifa

On 12 August 2008, a line of kids each carrying a boat made out of a shoe leaves Europe in the direction of Morocco, while a second line of kids with shoe-boats leaves Africa in the direction of Spain. The two lines will meet on the horizon.

In The Loop 1996, by avoiding the political border between the States and Mexico, Alÿs’s circumnavigation of the world involved a certain evasion of the then-current political agenda. Eight years later in Lima, the mechanics of displacement of a dune oscillated in between poetry and politics. The Green Line in Jerusalem (2005) openly questioned the role and relevance of poetics in a situation of political conflict. In August 2008, the Gibraltar project reflected a wish to fall back upon poetics, and marked a return to the way children’s fantasies relate to contemporary history.

Whereas an actual attempt to close the Strait of Gibraltar by means of, say, a bridge of cargo ships would have entailed a shift from artistic practice into engineering, the absence of a bridge in Alÿs’s project permits a narrative in which shoes become vessels and children turn into mythical giants.

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