artists & participants
After the seven Italian artists grappling with the transformation of places, the time of Christian Boltanski has now arrived at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea of Milan. This French artist (Paris, 1944), recognised today as one of the most outstanding contemporary artists, is returning to Italy with an exhibition dedicated to the dimension of time, to its passing and its perception. This exhibition held in Milan from 18th of March to 12th June 2005 has been curated by Jean-Hubert Martin.
The works on display at the PAC are all recent creations, designed to bring visitors into contact with Boltanski’s personal aesthetical approach to the concept of time throughout his artistic career: not history unfolding, but a fragile and unstable passage, an inexorable purpose, time running decadently. Boltanski’s artistic language is conceptual just as the funereal art of many cultures is conceptual; it is a system of simple signs and repetitive sounds which give shape to the relentless flow of time and therefore to the appointment with death that cannot be postponed. The objects that Boltanski employs in his installations are treated like puppets, not used for their own sake, for their form or what they represent, but rather for their arcane capacity to evoke and call to mind past events, thereby snatching them from oblivion and from being forgotten.
They are works which focus on the last great doubt of humankind, which sink into the fear of the end that is always threatening on the horizon. It is the sensation of passage, of the ephemeral insecurity of existence. It is the unanswered question about the sense of our presence.
Two fundamental questions for the whole of the human race are therefore addressed in this Milanese exhibition:
-the passage of time is strongly and harshly perceptible in different ways: there is an audio work, Horloge Parlanfe, in which a synthethised voice uninterruptibly recites the time; the video work Entre temps presents photographs of Boltanski’s face at different stages of his life; and then the interactive video 6 septembre shows events at high speed one after the other that occurred each 6th September, the day of the artist’s birth, and visitors may select one of them to examine and remember. His works tend mainly to call to mind the past, highlighting its traces and its sanctifying action.
-the question of passing away, of death is evoked not just by photographs, but also by the unequivocal and very direct work TOT (“death” in German) written on the wall with the use of light bulbs.
Time, whether a few days or a life time, reinforces the artist’s intent to document reality as it is, ordinary, routine and repetitive, taking on the flavour of Memory.
An exhibition therefore with a great impact, a sort of memento mori where the apparent truth of things done instantly and fleetingly turns into its complementary opposite and immerses visitors in the implacable flow of time. It is a flow, however, that can only be perceived through the subjective lens of Memory.
The exhibition is accompanied by a refined artist’s book published by Charta.
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Kurator: Jean-Hubert Martin