when making something leads to nothing… (it seems)

In this video, artist Francis Alys pushes a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City over a nine hour period; here it is edited down to 5 minutes. The cumbersome block gradually diminishes to the size of a tennis ball, until it finally melts into a puddle of water on the pavement. Writes artist Andrea Hickey :

“… stretching the object’s inexorable dissolution through the space of the city, the artist makes the point that progress is not inevitable – in short, that sometimes making something leads to nothing.”

It reminded of me the disappeared town of Silica, in the West Virginia Appalachians, that I used to visit years ago. I’d seen photos of the once thriving town — a glass factory, a store, houses — at the turn of the century. All that was left was an abandoned camp on the grassy banks of a river: a schoolbus with a huge stone hearth built onto it, that I imagined a hermit to have lived in. The evidence of his life – newspapers, a few pots and pans – gradually got swept away by wind and rain and the bus sank deeper into the ground each year, as though dissolving. There was not a bit of Silica left; it had all fallen down, melted into the earth….

Still, although making something sometimes SEEMS to lead to nothing, that “nothing” is always SOMETHING: a memory, a lesson or idea for later use, or some passing effect that’s not often not apparent…one thing subtly reverberating with another…

You can see more of Francis Alys’ videos here.


5 Responses to when making something leads to nothing… (it seems)

  1. jody 11.04.2010 at 12:19pm #

    i guess one could say that when we die it leads to nothing…so, in this context, what is something? are we really something? if so, what is it? is it possible that we are simultaneously something and nothing? is it possible to live in/from these questions in a way that would make room for it “all”….thanks so much for inviting this pause.

  2. liz 11.04.2010 at 6:37pm #

    I love this. To be able to create nothing from something!

    There’s a foreshadowing moment at about the 4-minute mark where the perspective is on the ground and the wind blows trash around, as if POOF! it all disappears.

    I wonder if he missed his icy friend in the end.

  3. Sally 11.04.2010 at 6:46pm #

    Yeah, that’s the thing, it’s still there, even when it isn’t…

  4. iamjoeyb 05.09.2011 at 2:39am #

    its very apparent what he has proven, I am going to test my interpretation of his idea very soon.

  5. wiebke 05.16.2012 at 6:51am #

    Somewhile it must have been painful for his back but to explain global warming it was worth it! Good job i think! Greetings from germany wiebke

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