The Monks were very glad to catch the Francis Alÿs show at Tate Modern on its last day.
Francis Alÿs (born Belgium, 1959), an architect, moved to Mexico City in the mid 1980s
He works in various media including painting and drawing but in his short movies his preoccupation with seemingly pointless processes, effortlessly transcend into profound comment, frequently laced with charm and wit.
I found myself engrossed by the film entitled Patriotic Tales, and since I had not read the Tate introduction of the piece , I had no idea what to make of what I saw, at least not at first. I watched Alÿs lead a single sheep by a rope in a circular walk and then another sheep was allowed to follow in a circular procession, and then another and then another and in due course there were a complete circle of twenty or so bleating sheep. In due course the one and only sheep attached to rope was removed from the circle and the remainder were allowed to continue rotating with Alÿs. All sheep, and indeed Alÿs himself were free to go their own way but chose not to.
After twenty minutes the metaphor was driven home. Later I read the contextual note provided by the Tate as follows.....
“Patriotic Tales 1997 targets the rut of Mexican politics in other ways. Alÿs leads a circle of sheep around the flagpole in the Zócalo, the ceremonial square and the site of political rallies. The action is based on an event in 1968 when civil servants were paraded in the city to show support for the government, but bleated like sheep to protest their subservience.”