Over several years Francis Alÿs walked the streets of London, evolving an ambitious project that delves into the everyday rituals and habits of the metropolis. Observing and intervening in the huge open-air studio, Alÿs maps the city through his walks. These are enacted in different parts of the city – Hyde Park, the City of London, the National Portrait Gallery and the streets near to Regents Park. The protagonists for the walks range from a solitary urban fox to a contingent of Coldstream Guards.
Francis Alÿs’s ideas can often be reduced to a set of simple instructions – but the work can be as monumental as moving a sand dune (a project he undertook with a thousand people in Lima), or as ephemeral as pushing a block of ice around Mexico City until it melts. With Seven Walks, we can track a fox on surveillance cameras as it moves around the National Portrait Gallery, hear the sound of railings being drummed, watch a regiment of Coldstream Guards find each other in the City’s square mile, or go for walk for as long as it takes for a pebble to enter your shoe.
‘Seven Walks’ was originally commissioned by Artangel, 2004-5.