View of “Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal,” 2007–2008, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2007. Photo: Joshua White.

Francis Alÿs

Hammer Museum

THE COVER OF THE CATALOGUE for Francis Alÿs’s exhibition at the Hammer Museum announces “rehearsal” as the show’s organizing principle in more ways than one. Of course, the exhibition’s title, “Politics of Rehearsal,” is prominent. But it is the graphic treatment that signals the show’s status as one version among many potential others: An adaptation of the familiar Hollywood movie clapboard, the cover features a slatelike background and handwritten words (FRANCIS ALŸS for DIRECTOR, POLITICS OF REHEARSAL as the TAKE) overwriting what look like white chalk smudges of erased prior takes. The exhibition itself, in other words, is conceived as a preparatory and inconclusive effort, possibly even as a failed take.

The show, in fact, is quite successful in presenting Alÿs’s varied and ongoing explorations of rehearsal, or failed takes, as a consistent if not coherent project. Organized by the

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