Francis Alÿs Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing)
In 1997 Francis Alÿs pushed a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it had melted to nothing, nine hours later. The act is at once absurd and poetic. This strenuous and also fruitless act of self-enforced labour has no output as such - the work is entirely ephemeral, all that remains is this 5 minute video.
The work is intended as a meditation on the life and economic situation of the people of South America; a parody of the massive disproportion between effort put in and outcome achieved. The ice block itself acts as both a reference to the hyper-materialist practices of modernist and minimalist sculpture (and their disapearance in post-conceptual contemporary art) and a mundane day-to-day object plucked from the environment the artist works in.
Alÿs has yet to make Parodox of Praxis 2 (Sometimes Doing Nothing Leads To Something) though he intends to when he finds an action that demonstrates point suitably succinctly.