NEW YORK, NY.-
French artist Christian Boltanski will create a monumental new work for Park Avenue Armory
s soaring 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall, filling the space with thousands of pieces of discarded clothing and a soundtrack of reverberating heartbeats. This installation will be Boltanskis largest and most ambitious project ever staged in the United Statesan affecting and poetic spectacle that explores concepts of human identity, memory, and loss. On view from May 14 June 13, 2010, Boltanskis No Mans Land is the second project in Park Avenue Armorys annual commissioning program, responding to the Armorys rich history and the immense volume of its drill hall.
Christian Boltanski is one of Frances most important contemporary artists, and this will be the first opportunity for American audiences to experience his work on such an incredible scale, stated Rebecca Robertson, President of Park Avenue Armory. The goal of our annual commissioning program is to give artists the opportunity to use the Armorys scale and unusual character to create works not possible in traditional galleries or theaters. The drill hall and the audience in it become part of the work, not just a container for it. In contrast to the exuberance and playfulness of the Ernesto Neto commission from last year, the installation by Boltanski is an emotional contemplation of humanity, mortality, and individuality.
Upon entering the drill hall, visitors will be faced with a massive sixty-six-foot-long wall of stacked oxidized biscuit tins, around which they will encounter a landscape of discarded clothing. The Armorys immense drill hall will be covered with thousands of pieces of used clothing, organized in 45 rectangular plots and culminating in a 25-foot-high mountain of garments. A five-story crane with a large construction claw will grab clumps of clothing from the mountain, hoist them 50 feet in the air, and then drop them so that the individual pieces will flutter down back into the massive pile. In addition to the mechanical noises of the crane and claw, the work will be further animated by the pounding sound of thousands of human heartbeats. Visitors will be able to record their own heartbeats in one of the Armorys period rooms as part of Boltanskis ongoing project, the Archives du Coeur.
No Mans Land is a vision reminiscent of Gustav Dorés famous illustrations of Dantes Inferno that continues Boltanskis exploration of humanitys capacity for evil, stated Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and curator of the exhibition. Boltanski himself compares the claw to chance or life as a game of dice.
No Man's Land is a companion piece to Personnes, an installation at the Grand Palais in Paris that opened in January 2010 as part of Monumenta. Both installations draw upon a shared vocabulary and materials, yet take on much of their meaning from the specific building and city within which each is created. In another version, the work will be presented in summer 2010 at the Hangar de Biccoca in Milan.
Considered one of Frances greatest contemporary artists, Christian Boltanski was born in occupied Paris in 1944 and currently lives and works in Malakoff, France. Noted for his work which explores issues of memory, loss, individuality, and anonymity, Boltanski was recently selected to represent France in the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Boltanski has recently had solo exhibitions the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2009); Magasin 3, Stockholm (2008); and La Maison Rouge, Paris (2008). His work has been the focus of major exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1990); New Museum, New York (1988); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1988); and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1984). Boltanskis work is in the permanent collections of major museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and Paris.