new-york

Francis Alÿs

Dia at The Hispanic Society of America

From September 2007 to April 2008, the North Building Galleries of the Hispanic Society—dimly lit, mahogany-paneled rooms usually set aside for nineteenth-century holdings—are being occupied by a rogue collection. At a glance, the works assembled don’t look so very out of place, save for the relentless repetition of their subject matter. The myriad pictures on display—created by many hands and culled from locales around the globe—all show a crimson-veiled woman, her face in profile. The image feels generically iconic—the attendant whiff of religiosity tempered (or perhaps enhanced) by a stubborn refusal of specificity. But disavowing the seeming one-thing-after-another logic, every iteration reveals on closer inspection all manner of distinctions.

The level of skill displayed, for one thing, ranges from paint-by-numbers mechanicity to off-the-cuff improvisation to

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