The Intermission x Balice Hertling

Alex Ayed


15 September
19 November

The Intermission and Balice Hertling are proud to present Coyote, Alex Ayed’s first solo exhibition in Athens.

The title of the show is inspired by the last boat that belonged to sailor Mike Plant, named Coyote, on which he disappeared at sea in 1992. In his early twenties, Mike Plant was charged in Greece for attempting to smuggle in drugs from Turkey. He ran away from the Greek police in Spetses and became a fugitive. Years later, he was arrested in Portugal to be delivered to the authorities but was released after the Greek administration failed to fill a demand to Interpol on time. Plant later built another boat and sailed around the world. A movie about his life, also titled Coyote, was released in 2017.

This recounting is part of an ongoing research project initiated by Alex Ayed in 2020, that was presented at the artistʼs last show at Balice Hertling in Paris. While most of the world was living in lockdown, Ayed developed a strong interest in the idea of displacement, integrating elements of sailing into his sculptural practice. For his current show at The Intermission, Ayed presents three new wall-mounted works that were made from sails stretched over canvas, which had been weathered out at sea.

Next to the most somber of the sails work, the artist hangs a found EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) a portable radio transmitter used in emergencies to locate boaters in distress. Mike Plant was lost at sea because his device had not been registered and therefore couldnʼt be found.

Ayed made four more sculptures for the exhibition in his typical daring, unusual assemblage of often found objects. The sculptures carry within them stories of travels and distant places, creating microcosms made of organic materials, hard stones, soft surfaces, and smooth textures.

Alex Ayed refers to the great history of traveling and exploring as an understanding of human nature. Whether due to choice or obligation, displacement has been part of the history of humanity. In constant search for the inner self, sailors, immigrants, and intellectuals have been using travel as a means to trace a narrative that can shape oneʼs life and demonstrate the complexity of the human condition.

Alì Blue Eyes
one of the many sons of the sons,
will make his way from Algiers, on ships
with sails and with oars. With him
thousands of men
with the bodies and eyes
of the lowly dogs of the fathers
on boats launched in the Kingdom of Famine.
With them they will bring the children
and bread and cheese, wrapped in yellow Easter Monday sheets. They will bring with them grandmas and donkeys,
on triremes stolen from colonial ports.

From “Alì Blue Eyes” (1962) by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Alex Ayed (b. 1989, France) lives and works between Paris and Tunis. His recent solo exhibitions include Owls and Promises at the Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany (2022), Laws of Confusion at the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2021) Transumanza, ZERO…, Milan (2021), Roaring Forties, Balice Hertling, Paris (2020); Soap Opera, B7L9 Art Station, Tunis (2019); Exhibition 3: Alex Ayed, Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, New York (2018). Ayed has participated in various group exhibi-tions including Soft Water Hard Stone at the New Museum, New York, USA (2021); Risquons-tout at WIELS Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels (2020); La psychologie des serrures at Centre d’art Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland (2020); Children Power, Frac Ile-de-France (2021) and Jaou Tunis, Tunisia (2019). Upcoming exhibitions include The floating collection at MAMbo, Bologna, Italy (2022) and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2022).

* Alex Ayed, La Maddalena, 2022 Courtesy of the artist and Balice Hertling