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Paradox of Praxis 1
(Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing), 1997
Documentation of an action, Mexico City
Video, 5 min., color, sound

This action was the synthesis of several themes explored by Alÿs during the mid-1990s, and a decisive moment in his attempt to reflect on the underlying logic of the peripheral economies of the South. The performance is a parody of the massive disproportion between effort and result in much of Latin American life, at the same time as it is a settling of scores with the aesthetics of the minimalist object. By pushing a block of ice around the centre of Mexico City for more than nine hours until he was left with nothing but a small puddle of water, Alÿs alluded to the seemingly unproductive hardship involved in the daily survival tactics of most people in the region. The block, identical to the thousands that are delivered every morning to street businesses all around the city, was also a sly means to symbolise the melting of the generic object of contemporary art.
For more than ten years, Alÿs has tried to concoct a logical sequel to "Paradox of Praxis 1", with an action that would illustrate the contrary principle: "Sometimes doing nothing leads to something". His failure to think up the proper proposal for such a script has, however, inspired a number of other works based on the questioning of efficiency.

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