De Appel

"I'm Not Here. An Exhibition Without Francis Alÿs"

17 Apr - 06 Jun 2010

© Ariel Schlesinger
"Minor Urban Disasters", 2007
Sequence of slides, courtesy the artist

17 Apr — 6 Jun 2010

de Appel Boys' School, Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 59
Opening: 16 April, 6-10 pm
Curated by de Appel Curatorial Programme ’09/’10

With: Mounira Al Solh (LB/NL), Vaast Colson (BE), Luisa Cunha (PT), Grier Edmundson (USA/UK), André Guedes (PT), Gustav Metzger (UK), Tatiana Mesa (CU), Roman Ondak (SK), Pak Sheung Chuen (HK/CN), Wilfredo Prieto (CU), Ariel Schlesinger (IL), David Sherry (UK), Stefan Brüggemann (MX/UK,) Noa Giniger (IL/NL)

‘Maybe you don’t need to see the work, you just need to hear about it.’
Francis Alÿs in conversation with James Lingwood, 2005

The participants of de Appel Curatorial Programme ’09/’10 present the exhibition “I'm Not Here. An Exhibition Without Francis Alÿs”. The title is inspired by “I’m Not There” (2007) a biographical film directed by Todd Haynes about the iconic American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Six actors depict different facets of Dylan's life and his public persona while Dylan himself is absent from the film. In reference to this, “I’m Not Here. An Exhibition Without Francis Alÿs” is a solo exhibition that takes the form of a group exhibition in which works by the contributing artists evoke the atmosphere of the work of an absent Francis Alÿs.

As a Belgian artist who moved to Mexico City in 1986, Alÿs makes specific use of ‘rumors’ and ‘hearsay’, oral history, witness reports and memories to distribute his actions after they have taken place. We as curators believe that one can engage with Alÿs’ work without having seen it. In order to radicalize this conviction, we have decided to withhold his works from our exhibition. By shifting the spotlight from a well-established artist such as Alÿs to other artistic practices, the exhibition redistributes agency to all of the participating artists and engender a critical interrogation of the format of a solo retrospective. Through an encounter with the artworks in the exhibition, “I’m Not Here. An Exhibition Without Francis Alÿs” invites the audience to think about Alÿs and challenge the privileging of presence over absence.

Curated by: Nikita Yingqian Cai (CN), Alhena Katsof (CA), Direlia Lazo (CU), Yael Messer (IL), Alan Quireyns (BE) and Luis Silva (PT)

Events in the context of the exhibition:

Performance David Sherry: 15 May, ongoing between noon and 3 pm
Artist talk David Sherry & Noa Giniger: 15 May, 4.30 pm
Performance André Guedes: occurs throughout the exhibition
Performance Tatiana Mesa: 17th Nov, 5 p.m. 2010 in La Habana, Cuba & Miami, US
Magazine Reading Mounira Al Solh: 20th, 21st April & 4th, 5th May, 12-5 p.m. (Reservation by email:
Guided Tours: 17 April (English); 24 April (Dutch); 1 May (Portuguese); 8 May (Hebrew); 15 May (Spanish); 22 May (Chinese), 29 May (English). All Guided Tours are scheduled at 3 pm.
Sunday School: 6 June: one work from the exhibition becomes the subject of a close reading by Martin van Zomeren.

Catalogus: a catalogue with contributions by Pak Sheung Chuen, texts by Emily Highfield, Jan Verwoert and the curators will be available in the exhibition venue or can be ordered via

Tags: Francis Alÿs, Stefan Brüggemann, Pak Sheung Chuen, Vaast Colson, Bob Dylan, Grier Edmundson, André Guedes, Alhena Katsof, Gustav Metzger, Roman Ondák, Wilfredo Prieto, Ariel Schlesinger, Mounira Al Solh