Francis Alys, Guards (2004-5)

Marching British Guards


” “A journey implies a destination, so many miles to be consumed, while a walk is its own measure, complete at every point along the way.” Francis Alys, 2005

Francis Alys walks a lot. The city is his open-air studio. ‘Guards’ (2004) is one component of ‘Seven Walks’, the body of works commissioned by Artangel and developed over the course of five years spent walking through the streets of London, which includes paintings, drawings, and works in moving image. ‘Guards’ draws upon many of Alys’s long-term concerns: how street-scapes structure behavior, the unspoken rhythms of the city; and the use of daily walking to encounter new phenomena and ideas. The artist provided a series of instructions which form the basis of the film: 64 Coldstream guards enter separately in the City of London, unaware of one another’s route; the guards wander through the City looking for one another; upon meeting, they fall into step and march together; when a square measuring 8 by 8 Guards is built, the complete formation marches towards the closest bridge; as they step on to the bridge, the guards break step and disperse.”

a marching british guard

Francis Alys, Guards (2004-5)