There Is Nothing Wrong With Your Television

You might not expect a large lounging area adorned with pillows and foam blocks at the David Zwirner Gallery, but then again you might not expect a film which follows two young boys playing with old film canisters throughout the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, either. Belgian born artist Francis Alÿs and his exhibition, “Reel-Unreel,” guide you through a politically charged, technological dreamscape that’s both innocent and combative. In addition to the 20 minute short film, the gallery is complete with original paintings in a fugue of socio-political turmoil that’s pervasive throughout much of the war-torn region.


A nomad to political and poetic curiosity, Francis Alÿs has involved himself in the issues facing the modern world, however they might present themselves. The themes persistent in “Reel-Unreel” are evidence of that as his paintings display a variety of television broadcast color bars depicted either by themselves or in some combination of Islamic women, the streets of Kabul, or simply the everyday.

alysFrancis Alÿs work currently being shown at David Zwirner Gallery in NYC. Photo: Eric Rydin

The color bars represent an interesting disturbance not only in the visual of the paintings and the medium of art itself, but also in Kabul. His adulterated maps of Afghanistan exemplify this idea as they mimic a satellite view of the area but with an obvious impairment to the city’s visibility from above. To further amplify this concept, Alÿs’ video, also titled “Reel-Unreel,” creates a web of intriguing secondary narratives that provide an insight into the cultural and political climate of Kabul.

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