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15 + 1
Framed photograph, 16 plates and glue
Framed image 23,5 x 30 cm, plate display 160 x 160 cm, each plate Ø 25 cm
Inv. Nr. 74
Photo: Thierry Bal

Born in 1959 in Antwerpen, Belgium
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico

After studying architecture in his native country in Tournai, then in Venice, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1986, to a city that has been the setting and the inspiration for many of his early objects and performances. Walking is at the centre of his practice and his experience of the city is conveyed through slight poetic interventions, which often address a political meaning. His performative actions extend through a wide range of media: preparatory drawing, painting, installation, video, animation film and photography. His works are defined by very simple concepts dealing with the notions of repetition, re-enactment, recalibration and reconfiguration that he compares to the history of South-America, in which modernity is always delayed. The installation 15 + 1 was created on the occasion of the Tirana Biennale in 2009, which took place in the abandoned Hotel Datji. Built by an Italian architect in 1940 during the Fascist period, the hotel was an historical and architectural landmark in Albania. The building embodied the ideologies and the power structures that used it during decades. The installation consists of fifteen plates from the hotel’s dinner service. Each of them was broken and then glued together again, nevertheless leaving out one piece. These preserved fragments were assembled to form a sixteenth plate. A still from a TV newsreel showing a dinner ceremony held during Tito’s regime at the hotel completes the ensemble. Here, Francis Alÿs offers a metaphor of the construction of history, built on testimonies that can be deformed, recomposed, and even invented.