CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
at Harvard University presents Christian Boltanski: 6 Septembres, a three-channel video installation by celebrated artist Christian Boltanski, on view in the Main Gallery from November 1December 20, 2012.
Starting with the notion of "I remember" (Je me souviens) and using headlines that had an impact on his own life as a point of departure, Christian Boltanski worked with newscast archives from France's Institut national de l'audiovisuel, gathering footage of events which occurred on each of his birthdays: every September 6th starting from 1944, the year of his birth, through September 6th, 2004. This collection of images has been sped up two thousand times, and the events of one life flow in front of the viewer, retracing historical moments including the end of the Second World War, the overthrow of Allende, and the death of Princess Diana, to name just a few.
This unique film, projected slightly differently on three walls, offers an interactive option to the viewer. Visitors can press on a button placed in front of each projection to stop the flow of images, selecting an image at random, perhaps from his or her own past. The spectator is therefore able to fully engage and participate in this meditation on memory, the implacable passing of time, and death. As with Boltanski's other works in video, installation, and photography, the project emphasizes the precariousness of our existence, but does so with luminosity and humor.
Boltanski, among the most prominent and celebrated artists of our time, works in video, photography, and installation to explore themes of death, memory, and loss. He has participated in Documenta V (1972), VI (1977), and VIII (1987). His major exhibitions include the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1984); the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Los Angeles (1988); and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1990). He is the recipient of numerous distinguished awards, including the "Créateurs sans frontières" award for visual arts by Cultures France (2007); the Praemium Imperiale Award by the Japan Art Association (2007); the Kaiserring, Goslar Award for Modern Art (2001); and the Kunstpreis, given by Nord/LB, Braunschweig, Germany (2001). Boltanski's most recent solo exhibitions include Park Avenue Armory, New York; Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion, London; and Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2012. He represented France at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Boltanski was born in Paris and lives and works in Malakoff, France.