Monday, May 2, 2011

Boltanski at the Venice Biennale

Christian Boltanski, a leading figure in the international art scene, is representing France at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennial; for the French pavilion, he is featuring a spectacular installation entitled "Chance." It deals with a theme that is dear to him: luck, bad luck and chance, forces that fascinate us and impose their own laws. As curator, the artist has chosen Jean-Hubert Martin, honorary director of the Georges Pompidou Musée National d'Art Moderne.

"Chance" marks an important stage in the evolution of Christian Boltanski's work. Unlike the rest of his work, which is dominated by disappearance and death, here he opens himself up to a broader examination of fate. The unfolding of life and the rhythm of births and deaths raise the question of the universal and the individual in a new form, of what distinguishes one being from another. Far from being grim, the ambience here is welcoming. Even though the brutality of an industrial and mechanical system serves thwarts the building's Neoclassical harmony, here filtered light illumines the faces of newborns. Periodically, one of them is chosen, and, if nothing distinguishes him from the others in appearance, he may yet be the one whose power and fame leave their mark on history.

An impressive demonstration on the part of an internationally recognised artist, whose formal grammar and presentation techniques enable him to create on both the conceptual and formal levels. His experience in theatre opened up a unique path for him, and even without putting himself on stage Christian Boltanski knows how to make his exhibits theatrical and get the audience intimately involved.

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