“The older we get, the greater the impression that we are walking in a minefield. Friends fly through the air all around us and tomorrow it may be our turn.” This sentence by Christian Boltanski (Paris, 1944) gives a clear idea of the themes that run through his works and installations and mark his whole artistic career. Memory, loss and death are major concepts, almost obsessions, in Boltanski’s oeuvre. As are their opposites, forgetfulness, oblivion, chance and the almost inexistent trace any life leaves after it vanishes. That which at other stages of his trajectory evoked the loss of childhood, the death of his parents or collective death, now focuses on its own end.
All these aspects are reflected and analysed in the exhibition Christian Boltanski, set up to celebrate the awarding of the 2014 Premio Internacional Julio González, and comprising seven large installations placed in IVAM’s Gallery 1.
When we see a work by Christian Boltanski we cannot help “reacting”, since the common experience of losing a family member or a loved one produces a gap in our lives that on occasion is hastily and incompletely replaced on finding, for example, an old photograph that we had totally forgotten about. This value of images impregnates this author’s artistic work, and becomes a driving force that brings back hidden or half-forgotten sensations. In this sense, the French artist has expressed in different ways his interest in individualised memory, little examples that produce a reaction in everyone: “I’m interested in the little stories of individuals who are not famous,” and, on another occasion, “We must speak in a general enough manner so that each one can encounter something from their own past, their own culture, their own desires.”
The exhibition is completed with a free publication in the form of a newspaper; a medium that, materially and conceptually, makes reference to periodicity, the passage of time and physical deterioration.
Christian Boltanski and José Miguel G. Cortés