Francis Alÿs: Children’s Games 1999-2022
Cuauhtémoc Medina, Luis Pérez Oramas, Lorna Scott Fox
Since 1999, Belgian multimedia artist Francis Alÿs (born 1959) has been producing videos that document the games that children play on the street and in courtyards around the world. Children’s Games is an ongoing archive of the urban practices that modernity has banished from everyday life, as the concepts of public space and free time have grown increasingly distorted by the domination of motor vehicles and electronic diversions. Many of these videos were shot in economically underdeveloped regions of the world, where the strength of tradition and community have allowed the shared life of a childhood on the street to survive. The children’s games that Alÿs captures gesture toward a threatened underground culture crossing generations and borders. Their rules, images and references suggest an ancient, potent substrate underlying our shared experience.