History of Our World

Sachlich | Christian Boltanski

Posted in Art, Object, Photography by R on July 3, 2010

Objets confisqués par les Nazis et déposés au Musée Central des Juifs, Prague
(Items confiscated by the Nazis and deposited in the Central Jewish Museum, Prague)

Inventaire des objets ayant appartenu à une femme de Baden-Baden
(Inventory of items that belonged to a woman from Baden-Baden)

Les habits de François C.
(The clothes of Francis C.)

Objets trouvés dans les égouts de Zurich pendant la semaine du 1er au 10 Juin
(Items found in the sewers of Zurich during the week of 1 to June 10)

Sachlich (Objective), part of a four part series that comprises Kiddish, surveys Boltanski’s principal motifs of place, memory and loss.

The banal tenor and specificity of context in Boltanski’s still-lifes introduce an interesting dialogue as the tonality and depth, or lack thereof, in his photographs render what are reasonably delicate subjects, into mute and objectified echos from a nonspecific time or place. Boltanski’s infatuation with confiscated war relics, (post-) belongings and objet trouvé presented throughout his tetrad make reference to the anonymity and translucence of memory, the interstitial space between sentimentality and indifference, and ultimately focus on transience, singularity and, often forced, despondency. These topos are poignantly represented in the thin vellum leaves of Sachlich that obscure and adumbrate the overleaf images, possessing the lucidity and vagrant non-specificity of memory itself.

Boltanski’s canon analyses notions of detachment and ephemerality in peculiar ways; monolithic aggregates of found and disregarded objects, candles and oxidized copper, or works of stone bare insight into an artist who’s works, ideologies and prehistory are often conflicting. Having absented himself from formal education in his preteens, Boltanski moved from rudimentary sculpture, drawing and painting to installations of pensive and introspective sculptural, filmic, and photographic works; questioning his own substance and significance in relation to memory, lineage and cultural praxis – the multidisciplinary nature and varied scale of these installations characterizes his work to date. An undercurrent throughout Boltanski’s work, and something that can often be difficult to grasp, is the over-simplification, and to a large degree the denial, of intellectual reason. When Boltanski’s work seems to display a profound melancholy or contemplation on histories past, it is the artist who abruptly categorizes his works as quotidian debris, coincidence or ‘stupid’ objects – stating that that it is ‘simply much easier to be dead, than to be alive.’*



Christian Boltanski : Toni Stooss : Catrin Wesemann




Christian Boltanski




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