Stored Memory – Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski|Les archives de C.B. (C. Boltanski Archives)- 1965-1988, 1989. Installation with light.  Metal, photographs, lamps, electric wire. 270 x 693 x 35.5 cm.  646 biscuit tins containing approximately 1,200 photographs and 800 miscellaneous documents, under 34 lamps and electric wire.

Christian Boltanski discovered the most important elements of his art by reconstructing his childhood with the aid of records and consistently carrying on the concept of the examination of past and non-permanence on a general level. In his works he sets out on a kind of search for clues, frequently making use of photographs he has found in estates, family albums, or old newspapers, which he enlarges into abstract silhouettes. He uses utensils associated with the subject of memory—old articles of clothing, tin boxes, archive cartons, toys—to produce the image of a fragmentarily put together past or reconstructed identity, which, however, do not contain a clear indication as to the person’s destiny. Rather the viewer is confronted with the symbolic and implied biography of a person, which allows a certain «presence of death»  to nearly become tangible.



Les archives de C.B. (C. Boltanski Archives)– 1965-1988, 1989. (image on top)


Christian Boltanski|Humans -1994

Humans (Gizakiak), 1994. Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.


The heart archive, 2010. Naoshima Fukutake art museum foundation, Island of
Teshima. Boltanski’s collection of  heartbeat recordings captured since 2005 from thousands of people who have  previously visited the exhibition.

The Archive is a central but paradoxical image in Boltanski’s work: it is a potential means of regaining access to what has been lost and is being mourned – adult’s perception of childhood for example – but the investigation  on the powers of archives set out ironically the absurdly limited and misleading processes of an archive, which turns easily its role of storing documents to glorify the memory in cult of the icons.


Les enfants de Dijon

Les enfants de Dijon

Les enfants de Dijon, 1988.


Monument, 1985. Musée de Grenoble.


Monument, 1985.

Odessa 1989

Odessa, 1989.

Untitled, 1989.


Réserve, 1990.  Museum of Modern Art, Mito, Japan.


Autel Chases, 1988. MONUMENTA 2010, Grand Palais, Paris.