Francis Alÿs

Lisson Gallery | 27 Bell Street | London

School’s out in London, and children walking down Lisson Grove are especially well placed to spot the one element of Francis Alÿs’s show that’s clearly visible from the street. Sleepers, 1999, projected onto a two-way projection screen modestly taped to the gallery window at ground level, displays eighty 35 mm slides of people and dogs sleeping on the streets of Mexico City. Curled up in doorways, slumped on benches, prostrate on sunlit sidewalks, many of Alÿs’s human subjects are clearly destitute, provoking that familiar, inevitable attack of conscience in the relatively privileged gallerygoer. But the artist’s subtle aesthetic judgments (avoiding close-ups of faces, frequently shooting from the same level as the sleeper) prevent the piece from becoming a document of pitiful dereliction; with each regular clunk of the projector’s rotating carousel, it proposes a hypnotic, even soporific,

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