Artist Runs Into Tornados

Francis Alÿs  runs straight into a tornado in the name of art. The strange thing is, this wasn’t the first time Alÿs willingly put himself in danger. Alÿs’ video installation is coming to New York’s Museum of Modern Art next year. You can view a clip of the video here. Bloomberg reports:

A man walks into a tornado with a video camera. As the killer winds whip around him and dirt gets in his lungs, he records the experience for posterity.

The man is 50-year-old Francis Alys, a Belgian-born artist. He has plunged into tornadoes in the Mexican countryside several times over 10 years, all in the name of art.

The resulting video work “Tornado” (2000-10) is a highlight of his one-man show at London’s Tate Modern (through Sept. 5), which is at New York’s Museum of Modern Art next year.

An architect by training, Alys went to Mexico in 1986 to rebuild quake-hit areas and never left. He is known for his films: poetic commentaries on politics, injustice, conflict and, ultimately, the futility of life.

Tall and lanky with long gray hair, Alys dresses like a trendy teenager, pairing baggy trousers with Converse sneakers. Aloof in the way artists can be, he’s late for a lunch with rich patrons, and unfazed about it. He lingers in the gallery, explaining his art to anyone who cares to ask.

Continues at Bloomberg

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  • Andrew

    Looks more like a dust devil to me. But I think anyone annoyed by this art needs to be annoyed, so I approve.

  • Andrew

    Looks more like a dust devil to me. But I think anyone annoyed by this art needs to be annoyed, so I approve.

  • Akbar Lightning

    i’m sorry i didn’t realize ‘artist’ had become synonymous with ‘idiot’…such a shame, it’s a word i really loved…

  • Akbar Lightning

    i’m sorry i didn’t realize ‘artist’ had become synonymous with ‘idiot’…such a shame, it’s a word i really loved…

    • gemmarama

      yeah didn’t they do this on jackass once?

  • Anonymous

    His next foray into danger: Shit-storm at the local Micky D’s……….

  • GoodDoktorBad

    His next foray into danger: Shit-storm at the local Micky D’s……….

  • gemmarama

    yeah didn’t they do this on jackass once?

  • Haystack

    Sounds like tornado chasing refined for the Greenwich Village hipster set.

  • Haystack

    Sounds like tornado chasing refined for the Greenwich Village hipster set.

  • Vox Penii

    from Stephen Hicks’s “Why Art Became Ugly”

    By the beginning of the twentieth century, the nineteenth-century intellectual world’s sense of disquiet had become a full-blown anxiety. The artists responded, exploring in their works the implications of a world in which reason, dignity, optimism, and beauty seemed to have disappeared.

    The new theme was: Art must be a quest for truth, however brutal, and not a quest for beauty. So the question became: What is the truth of art?

    The first major claim of modernism is a content claim: a demand for a recognition of the truth that the world is not beautiful. The world is fractured, decaying, horrifying, depressing, empty, and ultimately unintelligible.

    That claim by itself is not uniquely modernist, though the number of artists who signed onto that claim is uniquely modernist. Some past artists had believed the world to be ugly and horrible—but they had used the traditional realistic forms of perspective and color to say this. The innovation of the early modernists was to assert that form must match content. Art should not use the traditional realistic forms of perspective and color because those forms presuppose an orderly, integrated, and knowable reality.

    Edvard Munch got there first (The Scream, 1893 [1]): If the truth is that reality is a horrifying, disintegrating swirl, then both form and content should express the feeling. Pablo Picasso got there second (Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 [2]): If the truth is that reality is fractured and empty, then both form and content must express that. Salvador Dali’s surrealist paintings go a step further: If the truth is that reality is unintelligible, then art can teach this lesson by using realistic forms against the idea that we can distinguish objective reality from irrational, subjective dreams.

    The second and parallel development within modernism is Reductionism. If we are uncomfortable with the idea that art or any discipline can tell us the truth about external, objective reality, then we will retreat from any sort of content and focus solely on art’s uniqueness. And if we are concerned with what is unique in art, then each artistic medium is different. For example, what distinguishes painting from literature? Literature tells stories—so painting should not pretend to be literature; instead it should focus on its own uniqueness. The truth about painting is that it is a two-dimensional surface with paint on it. So instead of telling stories, the reductionist movement in painting asserts, to find the truth of painting painters must deliberately eliminate whatever can be eliminated from painting and see what survives. Then we will know the essence of painting.

    Since we are eliminating, in the following iconic pieces from the twentieth century world of art, it is often not what is on the canvas that counts – it is what is not there. What is significant is what has been eliminated and is now absent. Art comes to be about absence.

  • A Bad Joke

    What, no evidence of Marxism?

  • Haystack

    “The new theme was: Art must be a quest for truth, however brutal, and not a quest for beauty. ”

    Truth is beautiful.

  • Andrew

    Not in my experience.

  • Akbar Lightning

    the reductionist exploration was a valuable one…but at some point, we must have the guts to rebel against this too…and we can do this by finding a middle ground…and i think the paradox of this, of leaving behind extremism, and remembering a tradition that is deep and ancient, mixed with the freedom of modernism, is itself a new form of truth, and one that is both beautiful and open-ended…and in this way appropriate for our time, a time that deserves an art of hope…because in the end, if we are free to craft the truth of reality, then i choose to craft a hopeful one…

  • A Bad Joke

    What, no evidence of Marxism?

  • Haystack

    “The new theme was: Art must be a quest for truth, however brutal, and not a quest for beauty. ”

    Truth is beautiful.

  • Akbar Lightning

    the reductionist exploration was a valuable one…but at some point, we must have the guts to rebel against this too…and we can do this by finding a middle ground…and i think the paradox of this, of leaving behind extremism, and remembering a tradition that is deep and ancient, mixed with the freedom of modernism, is itself a new form of truth, and one that is both beautiful and open-ended…and in this way appropriate for our time, a time that deserves an art of hope…because in the end, if we are free to craft the truth of reality, then i choose to craft a hopeful one…

  • Andrew

    Not in my experience.

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