Christian Boltanski

Magasin 3 Projekt (Djurgårdsbrunn)

Christian Boltanski is a romantic committed to a covenant between art and death. Inventory of Objects Belonging to a Young Woman of Charleston, 1992, for instance, impassively archived the mortal effects of a nameless dead woman. The title, subtly telling of a life cut short, serves the artist’s conscious effort to induce melancholic feelings that transform an anonymous death into a figure of myth. Boltanski’s dramaturgy borrows from earlier romantics, not least John Keats, who instructed that his tombstone carry only the inscription HERE LIES ONE WHOSE NAME WAS WRIT IN WATER. Indeed, Boltanski’s oeuvre might have appealed to Keats, who also once confessed, “I have an habitual feeling . . . that I am leading a posthumous existence.” Boltanski’s laconic visual language is in league with the romantic-mythic undertones of the individual rendered anonymous in death, especially, as for Keats,

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 2009 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.