KEWENIG presents Room #6 with Après (2000) by Christian Boltanski, an installation of twelve coloured photographs of children printed on linen cloth, framed and mounted on metal rods. The presentation is part of the gallery’s exhibition format 12 Rooms, a monthly rotating artist programme in the enclosed room between the gallery and the adjacent building.
The combination of real and fictional evidence of his and other people's existence is central to Christian Boltanski’s artistic approach. Photography and objets trouvés are his favoured media when it comes to exploring existential themes such as collective memory, the passage of time, and the significance of individual biographies. In a constant process of appropriation and archiving, Boltanski recollects artefacts of every day life such as family portraits and obituaries in order to reconstruct traces of the past through personal yet anonymous stories.
The photographs in Après are a continuation of the work Les Écoliers d’Oiron (1993) showcasing portraits of schoolchildren which Boltanski took over the course of ten years, later rephotographed and printed in enlarged format on linen cloth. Like most of his works, the installation on view is a questioning of the role of images and the relationship that binds us to them throughout time and space–an approach reminiscent of Marcel Proust’s conception of temporal and spatial memory. By capturing the fleeting expression of a child on camera, the portrait becomes an unalterable reality, a past moment forever embedded in the present. Seeking the reflection of individual existence, Boltanski confronts the observer with a kind of melancholia related to an immanent sense of memory. Who are these children, where do they come from? Without names, the identity of the twelve children is disregarded, their photographs seem to be part of an infinite archive of lost children. In post-war Europe–a recurring reference in Boltanski’s oeuvre–thousand of children were left homeless or displaced. Who have they become today, après?
Christian Boltanski, born in 1944 in Paris, France, today is among the most renowned contemporary artists worldwide. He represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and participated on three occasions at the Documenta in Kassel. His work has been exhibited in major museums and international institutions such as the MoMA, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Espace Louis Vuitton, Munich; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Teien Art Museum Metropolitan, Tokyo; Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museo Nacional Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile; Palais de Tokyo, Paris–amongst many others. The major retrospective Christian Boltanski: Lifetime, first exhibited at the The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (June–November 2018) and the National Museum of Art, Osaka (February–May 2019), is currently on view at the National Art Center, Tokyo (until 2 Sept 2019) and will next be shown at the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum. Another retrospective exhibition will be held at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, opening in November 2019.
Press release courtesy Kewenig.