Archive: Francis Alÿs
Can faith move a whole mountain?

Can faith move a whole mountain?

Francis Alÿs - When Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru 1
Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru

When Faith Moves Mountains or Cuando la fe mueve montañas was created by artist Francis Alÿs to explain the paradox of life; sometimes people make things that lead to nothing, while sometimes making nothing leads to remarkable things.

In this piece, Alÿs managed to persuade 500 participants made up primarily of locals situated in the outskirts of Lima to help move a hill located on the outer edge of town one shovel at a time. The 500 volunteers armed with shovels and all dressed in similar looking shirts formed a line at the bottom of a large 1600 foot (487m) sand dune. The volunteers moved sand from the dune and positioned it about 4 inches (10cm) from its original spot, therefore, creating a brand new mountain. The project was completed as part of the Third Ibero-American Biennial of Lima.

Like most of his previous works, Alÿs recorded the entire process on film, photographs and various other mediums of documentation. The project, which was undertaken in 2002, was neither earthwork nor a traditional sculpture. Additionally, no new elements were included or added to the landscape; the process of moving the hill was seen as a powerful allegory and a metaphor to represent the power of human will and community work.

One of the other objectives of this piece was to incite the multiple subjects included in the project to become storytellers with the aim of creating one communal event which would in future help to strengthen the Lima community and prove to them that faith can indeed move mountains. When the project was completed, the participants seemed grateful to be involved, which implies that the artist’s purpose was realized. The local Lima volunteers were proud of taking part in the project and they realized the project’s story worthiness.

The project documented in photographs and videos was extraordinarily impressive; however, it only served the purpose of a social parable. The action of moving the sand dune was transitory and no one could recognize that the sand had been moved from its original position the next day. The aftermath and the success of the project lay in its capacity to effectively induce conversations which allowed audiences to generate an image out of the project. The project supplied audiences with true insight and the ease of its delivery was the artist’s greatest strength.

Video

https://vimeo.com/14129166
Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains, 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, 15.01min, Lima, Peru

Video stills


Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru

Francis Alys - When Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru
Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru

Francis Alys - When Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru
Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru

Francis Alys - When Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru
Francis AlÿsWhen Faith Moves Mountains (still), 2002, In collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega. 16mm film transferred to DVD, Lima, Peru


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