The children’s games that Alÿs captures constitute a threatened underground culture that brought together generations and crossed borders, and which are extremely interesting due to their conceptual implications. Their rules, images and references project a variety of concepts on time and the world and suggest an ancient, potent substrate underlying our shared experience, which is another reason why we should be concerned with their imminent disappearance.

Many of these videos have been shot in relatively economically underdeveloped regions of the world, where the strength of tradition and community have allowed the shared life of a childhood on the street to survive. While they frequently have a direct value as ethnographic documentation, they also metaphorically record transformations and conflicts in contemporary societies. But both in the mysterious way in which certain games are played practically identically in extremely different societies, as well as in their human value, they also become a signifying mechanism that unites a variety of cultures and ways of life.

A large number of these games, if not the entire series Children’s Games by Francis Alÿs, give off a utopian aura. They express and document forms of self-regulated sociability, in which children establish a diagram of their social relationships on a competitive basis without recurring to legislation or force.


These political implications are among Alÿs’s primary motivations for producing his work. For all these reasons, Children’s Games is a project that greatly exceeds the singularity of an artist: it presents itself as an essential archive for humanity’s future.

Artist: Francis Alÿs (Antwerp, 1959; he lives and works in Mexico City)
Curatorship: Cuauhtémoc Medina y Virginia Roy

Producción nacional de artes visuales realizada con el estímulo fiscal del artículo 190 de la LISR (EFIARTES)

The videos of Children's Games have no commercial value and are in the public domain under Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND. They can be viewed and downloaded at:



Francis Alÿs

Authors : Cuauhtémoc Medina, Luis Pérez-Oramas, Lorna Scott Fox

Language : Spanish & English

Editor: MUAC-UNAM | RM

Price: $400