Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, Tate Modern, London
You are walking down a long road between two fields. The road never seems to change, but you keep glimpsing something, close by, in the distance. Is there water on the road ahead? A town? The future flickers and shimmers, you are almost there, on the brink of something, then it vanishes into thin air: a mirage. This is the rather beautiful 16mm film, A Story of Deception (2003-6), filmed in Patagonia, that opens (and gives name to) Francis Alÿs’s current survey show at Tate Modern, exploring the crossovers between poetics and politics. The never-reachable moment, a continual glimmer of hope, a pointless struggle – these are the motifs of this brilliant, yet slippery, exhibition. In other films here children build sandcastles to knock them down, the artist pushes a large block of ice around Mexico City until it melts to nothing, or dribbles a line of green paint from a leaky can along the “green line” – the 1948 armistice border between Israel and neighbouring countries. Everything teeters between being depressingly pointless and joyfully, wonderfully so.