Francis Alys documents walking in locations significant to his life and my own practice
attempts to understand a city or location by walking through it, absorbing it. My series
started ten years ago – the more I walked, the louder my political voice became. In Railings 2004, Alys runs a drumstick along London fences, creating a playful musical score that challenges ownership and privilege. These simple, documented acts of walking amplify a political mood.
In 2012 I lived in Mexico City for a year. It was the opposite of living and working in
utopian Sydney. In my second week I managed to contact Alys – one of my favourite artists. Mexico City is his muse and his massive studio is near the Zocalo, the city’s busiest square. Every wall was painted green and his bathtub was an overflowing library. It was an oasis inside urban chaos. He insisted I leave before 4pm and that I walk in the middle of the road, such was the neighbourhood’s notoriety. You might say walking home was my first ‘walking work’ in Mexico: alert, on edge in the unknown.