Sandlines, the Story of History
Sandlines was how the Sykes-Picot agreement was described, which laid the foundations for a century of outside interference in the Middle East and a history of violence that is still going on. It is the story of History that the famous artist Francis Alÿs tackles here, but from an angle that does not play with history, instead playing with its representation. In the hills around Mosul, Sykes, knee-high to a grasshopper, negotiates with a prepubescent Picot. Here, the Iraqi nation, whose identity is still fragile, is made up only of children, its people played by herds of sheep and goats.
We soon understand that Sandlines has chosen the semiological experience, playing on the various values of signs and symbols. The historical account is not primordial here, but rather its appropriation by a group of children mobilised to tell in their own way a story that they do not fully understand. And then there’s the multiplication of figurative forms: child actors, marionettes, symbols drawn in the sand and then trampled – or not – by the local sheep and goats. But History is not a system here. Alÿs gives the children free rein to misbehave, to infuse the story with its share of play, and he has no qualms about dramatising some of his actors as they rehearse. At stake here, mirroring the children’s capacity to appropriate a strange but enjoyable exercise, is nothing less than a community’s capacity to appropriate its own narrative. (N.L.)
Original version: Arabic, English.
Subtitles: English, French, Arabic.
Screenplay: Francis Alÿs.
Cinematography: Julien Devaux, Ivan Boccara, Francis Alÿs.
Editing: Julien Devaux.
Sound design: Felix Blume.
Cast: Mohamed, Ali and the children of Nerkzlia village.
Production: Francis Alÿs, Ruya Foundation.
Distribution: Francis Alÿs.
- Color Matching, 2016.
- The silence of Ani, 2015.
- Lada Kopeika Project, 2014.
- Paradox of Praxis 5, 2013.
- REEL/UNREEL, 2011. D.O./U.N.D.O., 2008.
- Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, 2008.
- Bridge/Puente, 2006
- Politics of Rehearsal, 2005.
- The Green Line (SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POETIC CAN BECOME POLITICAL AND SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POLITICAL CAN BECOME POETIC), 2004.
- Fitzroy Square, 2004.
- The Nightwatch, 2004.
- Railings (includes Sample I, Onslow Garden, Park Crescent), 2004.
- El Gringo, 2003.
- When Faith Moves Mountains, 2002.
- Re-enactments, 2000.
- Rehearsal II, 2001.
- Children’s Games, 1999-Present.
- Duett, 1999.
- Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing), 1997.
- Zapatos Magnéticos, 1994.
- The Collector, 1991-2006.
Sandlines was how the Sykes-Picot agreement was described, which laid the foundations for a century of outside interference in the Middle East and a history of violence that is still going on. It is...En savoir +
A woman poses. A man with a camera zeros in on her and takes a picture. But very soon, the shoot degenerates. Each click of the camera sounds like a machine gun. No-one speaks; the editing is...En savoir +
A series of logos and the names of the companies they represent. Some are unknown outside Argentina, and others are multinational corporations established all over the world. And then, the industrial...En savoir +
The title, quoting Nietzsche describing Man as a sick animal, seems to fit Jean-Luc Nancy, famous for his thinking and especially his striking account of his experience of a heart transplant. But...En savoir +
A little girl, about ten years old and already sharp-tongued, is sitting on the grass next to a pond and talking to Hugo, off-camera. They’re discussing Chaïnes, whom this one was in love with…...En savoir +
Neither hostel nor specialised centre. A house: this is how a mother describes the living area – just as Fernand Deligny, who inspired them, formerly called his own in Monoblet – where her son...En savoir +
Connect several vessels at the bottom, pour liquid into one of them and the liquid will flow between all of them until it reaches the same level in each. This is the principle of communicating...En savoir +
Language, words, images, and their complex mazes are crucial questions for writer and filmmaker Florence Pazzottu. Audiences may have seen Trivial Poème (FID 2017), which combined a political stance...En savoir +
It wasn't the right mountain, Mohammad: we never get to know who Mohammad is, nor which mountain was the right one. What we do know is what happens on the wrong mountain: the crossing of paths...En savoir +
While visiting friends, Frédéric Pajak is captivated by a picture hanging on their wall. The painter is François Aubrun, who has moved to live a few yards from where Cézanne painted the Mont...En savoir +