Wednesday, May 18, 2011

sometimes making something leads to nothing

Francis Alÿs - Paradox of Praxis - Video - 1997

In Paradox of Praxis, Francis Alÿs spends a long day pushing a block of ice around the bustling streets of Mexico City until it melts away into a small puddle, marking the end of the "work." It is an action that meditates on the idea that "sometimes making something leads to nothing."

Bent over pushing a block of ice, referencing labor, Alÿs is just one of many going about the city doing what it is they do. "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them." The anonymity of the city absorbs him. Alÿs has commented, "Each of my interventions is another fragment of the story I am inventing, of the city that I am mapping."

But the reference to labor, to industriousness, cannot be ignored. As one critic has pointed out, "The routines of manual workers are just as much of a praxis and must at most times feel just as paradoxical." Alÿs pushes his ice block. Is it work? Is it a game? When does one become the other or do they happen simultaneously? And then it all disappears.

Futility exists in all our attempts to "do" or "make." It reminds me of the beautiful articulation of this idea in Andy Goldsworthy's film, Rivers and Tides, as he spends hours attempting to build a cone of stone that continuously falls apart.

"I am so amazed at times that I am actually alive," Goldsworthy observes after the 4th collapse of his piece.

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It isn't more complicated that that.
It is opening to or recieving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
Sylvia Boorstein

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