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Francis Alÿs Wins 2018 EYE Art & Film Prize

Francis Alÿs photographed in Mosul, Iraq, in 2016.

COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JAN MOT, BRUSSELS/AKRAM SHEX HADI

The EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam has named Francis Alÿs the winner of this year’s EYE Art & Film Prize, which is awarded annually to an artist working with moving images. Alÿs is the fourth winner of the prize—which comes with £25,000 (about $35,000)—after Hito Steyerl, Ben Rivers, and Wang Bing.

Alÿs has become known for his films, photographs, drawings, and videos that address borders and their effects on communities they divide. His work often involves a performance of sorts—Alÿs’s acclaimed 1997 video Paradox of Praxis: Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing features the artist pushing a block of ice through Mexico City (where he is been based) for nine hours, until it melts away entirely. Though Alÿs is one of today’s most respected artists working with film, he has been frank about his lack of knowledge of the medium. “Cinema is something I don’t know at all,” he told ARTnews in a 2013 profile. “I adore it, but it’s not my language.”

In a statement issued on behalf of the prize’s jury, Sandra den Hamer, the director of the EYE Filmmmuseum, said, “Conceptual artist Francis Alÿs draws on a strongly poetic and imaginative sensitivity in observing and probing political and social realities, such as those encountered along national borders and in conflict regions. The jury was highly impressed by his sincere and sensitive work that displays his personal and sometimes playful exploration of cities and urban areas.”

Den Hamer chaired the prize’s jury, which also included fashion designer Agnès B., Associação Cultural Videobrasil director and curator Solange Farkas, Tate Modern senior curator of international art Andrea Lissoni, artist Aernout Mik, filmmaker Olivia Stewart, and artist/filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

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