Christian Boltanski - PHOTOGRAPHS New York Friday, October 8, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    In order to understand and appreciate life, Christian Boltanski reminds viewers of his installations, one must be able to first directly confront death. The latter, however, is meant as a metaphor, most specifically in relation to childhood. It is during the transition from childhood to adulthood that humans internalize the notion of death, and from which point on, a dead person resides within: “I began to work as an artist when I began to be an adult,” Boltanski has said, “when I understood that my childhood was finished, and was dead. I think we all have somebody who is dead inside of us.” Perhaps it is for that reason that the features on the children portrayed in Boltanski’s installations are blurred, allowing them to transcend their own individuality and become a part of a collective childhood, and as such, a collective death with which the viewers are summoned to engage and relate.
    In Fête du Pourim, Boltanski arranges the images in a tight pyramidal shape that echoes a commemorative altar, an attribute heightened by the softly glowing lamps. Moreover, for a mantle Boltanski provides a sealed tin suitcase, filled with used clothing articles that further enhances the sense of inaccessibility to a bygone era. Exposed electrical chords, arguably surrogates for umbilical chords, dangle emphatically in front of the images. In conjunction with the title, the work inevitably evokes schematic connotation with the Holocaust, a subject Boltanski has revisited continuously throughout his career. As an event of monumental proportions, one whose devastation is perhaps most palpably felt in relation to the absentia of youth on both literal and figurative levels, the Holocaust is Boltanski’s vessel to meditate on loss. Consequently, viewers are left to wonder as much on their own life’s fragility, ephemerality and as much beauty.


Fête du Pourim

Mixed media installation comprised of five gelatin silver prints, three lamps and tin box with clothes.
61 x 34 1/4 in. (154.9 x 87 cm) overall.
Accompanied by an installation illustration signed and dated in pencil.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $68,500


8 October 2010
New York