Francis Alÿs devoted four years to Don‘t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River, a project that took place both in the sphere of world politics and in gallery environments as a multi-media installation that encompassed painting, drawing, sculpture, and video. Initially conceived as a means of connecting Cuba with Key West in the United States, Don‘t Cross the Bridge before You Get to the River had a second life in the Strait of Gibraltar as Alÿs attempted to build alliances that would represent the common humanity of Europe and Africa. Alÿs stated: “I wanted to construct an authentic image of the place, a symbolic bridge between the two continents, but always ended up involved in someone else’s fight. It was absurd.” Ultimately faced with the impossibility of realizing the work with actual boats, Alÿs invited children to form a line at each end of the strait with toy boats, bringing the project back to the open-hearted spirit of collaboration that first motivated Alÿs.

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Francis Alÿs, Belgian, born 1959
Two channel video
20 minutes 54 seconds
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
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Accession Number
Film & Video

The artist; [Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich]; purchased by MFAH, 2016.