Escorting the Commuters- (Francis Alys’ painting)
(The women who mistook a painting for her husband).


November 9th 2005 M. Foá

The Commuters, London 26th Sept- 20th Nov 2005.
(Francis Alys; Seven Walks London 2004-5, Page 14. written in old manual typewriter script)
a painting is hung on a wall of the entrance hall
in a house situated in Portman Square, no.21.
At 7:00 PM, a chosen carrier takes the painting off the wall.
He brings the painting back to his home by walking or taking whatever means of transport he would normally use.
The painting rests overnight at the carrier’s home.
The next morning, the carrier brings the painting back to Portman Square, no21.
At 11.00 AM, he hangs the painting on the wall of the entrance hall.
At 7.00PM, a new carrier takes the painting off the wall.
He brings the painting back to his home by walking or taking whatever means of transport he would normally use.
The painting rests overnight at the carrier’s home.
The next morning,

In Francis Alys’ directions (text above) he seemed to be asking for something to happen.
Interpreting (to an exaggerated level) Walter Benjamins theory that original works of art have “an Aura” (its presence in time and space -its unique existence at the place where it happens to be), I took Aly's Painting to be from, therefore part of, and so actually Francis Alys. I embraced Aly's direction and understood it as an invitation to 'a date', perhaps even an engagement, and so I dressed in appropriate garments.

The Bride costume potent with fairytale and romance is, when taken out of the wedding context, both comic and tragic. It is Aristotle’s lost half searching for its other to become whole (after Alys’ “Guards”) and echoes Dickens’ “Miss Haversham” an old women in her bridal dress - psychologically stuck at the moment of her (jilted at the alter) tragedy.

My costume bought (at a very reduced price) from a wedding shop on the Walworth road, had been altered to accommodate a very large body and then returned without use. The startlingly white satin, pearl and bow encrusted unused garment; suggested numerous scenarios.

I took 'The Commuters' to Dover - to watch the sunrise and the ferry's sailing. On the reverse of Aly's painting, I drew the observed landscape - in chalk from the cliffs. The sketch an image of other commuters- references those who travel a more treacherous journey to or from other continents, refugees, asylum seekers, escapees, and stowaways, crossing the channel, seeking another life-
The video documentation (by Susan Doyon) is edited to 7 1/2minutes

W.Benjamin, 'The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', in Modern Art and Modernism: A Critical Anthology (Published in association with The Open University), eds. F. Frascina & C. Harrison, U.K.: Paul Chapman Publishing, 1982, pp.216-220. Also J. Berger, Ways of Seeing, UK: BBC and Penguin Books, 1972, pp.18