Christian Boltanski, Être à nouveau, 2005, Video installation, Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.

Deterministic Exercises: If There are Traces of Life, Death Must be Nearby

Christian Boltanski, Être à nouveau, 2005, Video installation, Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.


Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall
in the building Magasin 3, floor 1
+ 46 8 545 680 40
Christian Boltanski
September 5-December 14, 2008

Experiences of loss and the need to put a face to anonymous suffering forms the thread that runs through Boltanski’s body of work. Our individual and collective memories are central to work that often bears the traces of human life — clothes, photos, letters and other personal material.

Death is omnipresent like a bitter aftertaste even in more humorous and autobiographical pieces which irreverently combine documentation and fiction without distinguishing between the two. In his new work to be included in the exhibition this fall, Boltanski is more interested in living material and like an archivist or ethnographer he collects proof of the fragility of the human condition.

Christian Boltanski (b. September 6, 1944) is a French photographer, sculptor, painter, and installation artist. He was born in Paris to a Jewish father of Ukrainian heritage, and a Corsican mother. He lives and works in Malakoff.

He is married to the artist Annette Messager, with whom he sometimes collaborates. His artistic work is haunted by the problems of death, memory and loss; he often seeks to memorialize the anonymous and those who have disappeared.

In his earlier years, Boltanski painted in an autodidactic way, concerned primarily with themes of historical significance. However, by the 1970s, Boltanski removed himself from the painting arena and began his quest for remnants of his own past through selected artworks.

These artworks led Boltanski to question the substance he had used when creating his own artworks. However, this introspectivism supplied him with the motive for other artworks in which non-truths and the realisation of fundamental truths converged. Boltanski reconstructed his own youth in this method. In doing so, Boltanski used a vast spectrum of media. For example, film, performance, photography and video. It is interesting to note that Boltanski maintained this vision and direction without focusing on the obvious contradiction of his self-understanding as a painter.

Moreover, the combination of varied media is a fundamental part of the spatial dimension which has been the focus of Boltanski's work since the mid-1980's.

This exhibition was curated by Tessa Praun.

Christian Boltanski, Autel, Lycée Chases, 1989.

Christian Boltanski, Prendre la Parole, 2005, Installation, Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.