Francis Alÿs: La dépenseNov 9, 2018 - Feb 24, 2019

Rockbund Art Museum (20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai)
Yuko Hasegawa
Francis Alÿs
  • About the Exhibition

    The Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai will present the first large-scale solo exhibition in China by the Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs, “La dépense,” from November 9, 2018 to February 24, 2019, curated by Yuko Hasegawa.

    One of the most influential artists of the contemporary period, Francis Alÿs lives and works in Mexico City. Arriving there in 1986 armed with an architectural education, Alÿs began to make works that revolved around the city’s distinctive local culture, history, and society, ultimately expanding his artistic inquiry to a range of locations around the world that he has traveled to and spent time getting to know. With his acute poetic and imaginative powers of perception, Alÿs raises questions about anthropology and geopolitics, creating works from his close observations of everyday life. He has had numerous major exhibitions, including at the Tate Modern in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, among many others. La dépense, the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in China, will present close to 1300 works, including drafts, videos, sketches, paintings, drawings, and other preparatory works, some of which have never been seen by the public before, offering a rare glimpse into the artist’s working methods.

    The exhibition’s title La dépense, which translates as “consumption,” refers in particular to the theories of French philosopher Georges Bataille. As the curator Yuko Hasegawa notes: “In a China transformed by a fast-paced transition to capitalism and the efficiencies of technology, excessively ‘non-productive consumption’ (dépense improductive) is just as important in human activity as productive consumption.” Such a notion is tightly wound into Alÿs’ artistic practice, which Hasegawa commends for “courageously grappling with the status quo; casting doubts on our visual sense; rethinking the meaning of the labor of manual work and what it means to consume time: these are among the subtle messages from Alÿs’ work that can be applied to the situation in China.”

    ... Read More
  • About the Artist

    Francis Alÿs was born in Belgium in 1959 and trained as an architect before re-locating to Mexico City in 1986, where he has been based ever since. He is best known for his actions, which he documents in various ways, some merely involving the artist walking through the city. Others are epic-scale events set in dramatic landscapes bringing together hundreds of participants. Alÿs also works with painting, animation, and drawing, with many of the images he creates having a dreamlike surreal quality. His actions are frequently humorous, often transient, and can sometimes seem absurd, and yet they are always concise and carefully planned. For a long time Alÿs has been interested in spreading news about his work through unconventional means such as rumor, allowing audiences to interpret his projects in unpredictable ways. Each of these poetic qualities contributes to Alÿs' idiosyncratic way of approaching questions to do with urbanism, economics, migration, and borders. Throughout his career he has particularly investigated the processes of modernization in Mexico and Latin America.

  • About the Curator

    Yuko Hasegawa is Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2016 - present) and Professor of the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts (2016 - present). She has previously been Chief Curator and Founding Artistic Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (1999 - 2006) and Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006 - 2016). She is currently Artistic Director of Inujima Art House Project (2011 - present). She was Curator of 11th Sharjah Biennial (2013), Co-Curator of 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), and Artistic Director of the 7th International Istanbul Biennial (2001).


    Hasegawa's recent projects include the FUKAMI, a dive into Japanese anesthetics at Hotel Salmon de Rothschild(2018),  the 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art: Clouds ⇄ Forests (2017), Japanorama: New Vision on Art since 1970 ​​​​at Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017), Kishio Suga: Situations at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2016), and New Sensorium Exiting from Failures of Modernization at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (2016).


    She has served on the jury for the Nasher Prize Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2015 - 18), the Premio MAXXI BULGARI, Roma (2017 - 18), and the 48 Esposizione La Biennale di Venezia (1999), among others, and is currently jury member of Hugo Boss Asia Art Award (2013, 2015, 2017).

  • About Rockbund Art Museum

    For over eight years Rockbund Art Museum has been at the forefront of the growing contemporary art scene in China, presenting world-class programs in a unique museum setting. A boutique museum of the utmost quality, RAM holds a unique position within Shanghai’s continually expanding cultural scene. The museum is located within the Bund district and housed in an exquisite heritage Art Deco building, which was renovated by the architect David Chipperfield before opening in 2010.

    The museum’s exemplary curatorial, education and research programs showcase acclaimed and emerging Chinese and international artists, responding to and reflecting on present and urgent challenges of society locally and internationally. RAM presents a bold and pioneering program of three exhibitions and a special project "RAM HIGHLIGHT" per year, exploring and realizing artists’ most ambitious projects and working with them to tailor exhibitions to the Museum and to the Shanghai context, often with a large proportion of works being new commissions. RAM devises, produces and curates its program in-house, in conjunction with carefully selected international collaborations of the highest quality. 

    For more information, please visit:

  • RAM Documentary | Francis Alÿs: La dépense
  • Francis Alÿs / Tornado
  • Francis Alÿs / A Story of Deception, Patagonia, Argentina
  • Francis Alÿs / Silencio
  • Francis Alÿs / Le Temps du Sommeil
  • Francis Alÿs / Nei Mongol Paintings
  • Francis Alÿs / The Loop
  • Francis Alÿs / Exodus
  • Francis Alÿs / Untitled
  • Francis Alÿs / Do-Undo
  • Francis Alÿs / L’imprévoyance de la nostalgie
  • Francis Alÿs / 《外爆/内爆》
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: Gibraltar Focus", 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: Gibraltar Focus", 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception", 2011, Museum of Modern Art
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception", 2011, Museum of Modern Art
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception", 2010, Tate Modern
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception", 2010, Tate Modern
  • View of "Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception", 2010, Tate Modern

Related Programs



Forget password?
Have no account?Start here


After submitting registered email, you will receive an email instruction about how your retrieve password.

Send Have no account?Start here


Complete send

Activate your account

Please go to
to complete the sign-up process.

If you haven't received activation email, please make sure to check spam folder or click "Re-send" below.

Re-send in seconds