Francis Alÿs

Tate Modern

A STORY OF DECEPTION, 2003–2006, consists of a painting sliced in half and a film loop of a highway shot from the front of a car. The car straddles a dashed white center-line. In the middle distance, we see the glimmer of an oily mirage hovering above the scalding pavement. As the vehicle inches forward, the mirage evaporates, only to grow larger at the horizon, where the road dissolves. The car moves deliberately, slowly, as if toward a destination. It goes nowhere. Nothing changes.

A Story of Deception was an apt introduction to the mind of an artist whose practice revolves around the representation of futility. The Belgian-born Alÿs has explored this theme with a certain relentlessness since moving to Mexico City in 1986, as the impressive enfilade at Tate Modern—irreproachably installed by curators Mark Godfrey and Kerryn Greenberg, with help from the artist—made abundantly clear. In

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