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© Boltanski, Christian/BONO

Christian Boltanski

Skyggespill (NOR)
Théâtre d'ombres (FRA) (original)

Creation date:(1984)
Object type:Installasjon
Materials and techniques:figurer av diverse materialer på stativ, halogenlamper og vifte
Dimensions:Variable mål
Indexing term:Bildende kunst
Acquisition:Kjøpt 1994
Object no.:MS-03655-1994
Catalog level:Komplekst objekt
Owner and collection:Nasjonalmuseet, The Fine Art Collections
Copyright:© Boltanski, Christian/BONO
Photo:Nasjonalmuseet  Download
Part of exhibition:Kunst 2 (NOR), 2005–2007
Absolute Installation (alternative), 2011–2012
Metadata:DigitaltMuseum API

Born in 1944, French artist Christian Boltanski is dealing with recent history in his emotionally laden work. “I am half Jewish and half Christian… I was born at the end of the war and the war is very important to me… All my work is more or less about the Holocaust”1

In his installations Boltanski transforms concrete political and personal history into universal artworks with an apparent human dimension, in the widest sense of the word. Working mainly with large scale theatrical installations he animates the viewer to engage physically in them. After this first phenomenological experience it is difficult not to get caught up in an emotional involvement.

The works are often simple but fragile in execution, using universal iconography, and showing a touch of emphatic carelessness. For his Théâtre d’ombres (Theatre of Shadows) he uses small metal figurines, primitive in their style and handmade out of metal foil and thread. There is a skull, some ghosts, some skeletons, masks and scary faces. They are all dangling from a simple metal frame placed on the gallery floor. Light spots next to them throw their shadows multiplied in size onto the walls.

Behind the work lie children’s rituals. The dance of life and death reaches an elusive borderline here. The experience is ambivalent, at once laughable and sad. Boltanski says he has always been interested in Childhood. He feels that we all carry a dead child within us.2

  1. Steinar Gjessing, «Christian Boltanski. An Interview», Terskel, 11, (1994), 43.
  2. Günter Metken, «Christian Boltanski. Memento Mori and Shadow-Play», Terskel, 11, (1994), 21.

Text: Andrea Kroksnes

Christian Boltanski is dealing with recent history in his emotially laden work. “I am half Jewish and half Christian … All my work is more or less about the Holocaust,” he said in an interview in 1994.

Boltanski transforms concrete political and personal history into universal artworks with an apparent human dimension, in the widest sense of the word. Working mainly with large scale theatrical installations he animates the viewer to engage physically with them. After this first phenomenological encounter it is difficult not to get caught up in an emotional involvement.

The works are often simple but fragile in execution, using universal iconography, and showing a touch of emphatic carelessness. For his Théatre d’Ombres from 1984 he uses small metal figurines, primitive in their style and handmade out of metal foil and thread. There is a skull, some ghosts, some skeletons, masks and scary faces. They are all dangling from a simple metal frame placed on the gallery floor. Light spots next to them throw their shadows multiplied in size onto the walls.

Behind the work lie children’s rituals. The dance of life and death reaches an elusive borderline here. The experience is ambivalent, at once laughable and sad. Boltanski says he has always been interested in childhood. He feels that we all carry a dead child within us.

Text: Andrea Kroksnes
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0

Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present