54. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – Padiglione della Francia

54. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – la Biennale di Venezia - Illuminazioni

Dal 4 giugno al 27 novembre 2011 

Padiglione della Francia

Christian Boltanski - Chance

Christian Boltanski, a leading figure in the international arts scene, will represent France at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with a unique and spectacular installation called “Chance”, which deals with one of those themes dear to the artist: chance, luck and misfortune, forces that fascinate and impose their law. The artist has selected the honorary director of the Georges Pompidou National Modern Art Museum, Jean-Martin Hubert, as curator. Placed under the curatorship of Bice Curiger, Swiss art critic and historian, the 54th International Art Exhibition has chosen “ILLUMinations” as the theme for this edition. The Biennale is one of the most important forums for highlighting and disseminating current developments in the sphere of international art. The French Institute is responsible for the general curatorship of the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in co-production with the National Centre for the Fine Arts (Centre National des arts plastiques / CNAP) and in collaboration with the Directorate General of Artistic Creation (Ministry of Culture and Communications) and with the exclusive patronage of Citroën. This project is the result of a commission on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the work will become part of the National Centre for the Fine Arts? collection after the Venice Biennale. The theme of the French Pavilion At the recent Monumenta exhibition called Personnes, an exhibition that was later installed and exposed at The Park Avenue Armory in New York and the Hangar Bicocca in Milan, Christian Boltanski demonstrated his ability to deal with universal themes, while at the same time ensuring that everyone is free to interpret his work in their own way. The artist has again chosen “Chance” as his theme for Venice. In a mobile and unstable environment, this theme is developed in a more playful and interactive way by allowing the public to play and to win with the artist. Resolutely independent of particular movements and schools of thought, Christian Boltanski deals with existential questions on a spectacular level, merging fact and fiction, in an artform that he himself refers to as classical, not in terms of its form but in terms of the themes it deals with, such as “Chance, God?s Law and Death”. Reflecting on the passage of time, Chance is one of the links in the chain of memory, in what can be referred to as “little” or “individual” memory, that which defines the fragile uniqueness of each person, and which form part of the immense collective work The Archives of the Heart (Les Archives du Coeur).

Since 2005, Christian Boltanski has been collecting recordings of heartbeats from all over the world, in order to attempt the impossible: to collect “the heartbeat of everyone in the world”. A truly universal project, the recordings will be preserved on the Japanese island of Teshima on the Seto Inland Sea, thanks to the support of a sponsor and is open to the public. In this spirit of allegorical and utopian works, Christian Boltanski "sold his life” (i.e. a continuous video recording of his work and activities in his studio) to a collector in Tasmania. This lifetime annuity was granted in an attempt to create yet another permanent installation, in what the artist refers to as "his deal with the devil". The work presented at Venice is optimistic in its reflection on chance and destiny; the chance of birth against the chance of death. Is everything pre-determined? Who controls destiny? Has our path already been decided? Is God present or absent? At the entrance to the pavilion, the visitor is invited to sit on one of the wooden chairs. A voice whispers to him. Each chair “speaks” in a different language uttering the words “Is this the last time?” Is this a message of hope? Or a troubling announcement?... The interior of the pavilion is criss-crossed by a moving walkway, that travels at great speed and upon which hundreds of photos of children?s faces have been printed. The walkway stops randomly and one of the children?s faces is lit up and an alarm sounds. Chance has picked out one child. The process begins all over again, until the walkway stops again and the alarm signals Chance?s next choice. In each of the two side rooms, a clock with luminous numbers counts up the world?s population. The panel on the left records, in real-time, the number of births and the panel on the right, the number of deaths. Every evening at midnight, they provide the figures of the day. The number of births is always higher than the number of deaths! Every day witnesses the victory of life over death. In the third room, there is a large mural work consisting of a huge video screen on which various images of different segments of human faces are projected. By pressing on a button, the visitor can pause the images. The faces are made up of three random sections creating strange even monstrous faces, the fruit of a wild imagination. If the visitor is lucky, the three sections of the face match and he wins the image shown. Throughout the duration of the Biennale, a version of this work will be available on www.boltanski-chance.com. Lucky winners will receive a surprise sent personally by the artist. Christian Boltanski Born in Paris in 1944, Christian Boltanski practices painting until the end of the 1960s.

The artist plays with autobiographical codes and recreates objects and situations from his childhood. From 1970 to 1973, he creates Reference Display Cases (Vitrines de references) by subverting museographic codes: made or found objects are exhibited as evidence of a banal life of which only some traces, at times even absurd ones, remain. In 1972, The Album of Family D. (L?album de la famille D.) is presented at Documenta in Kassel and launches the artist?s international career. After Comic Sketches (Saynètes comiques / 1974), where the artist reveals himself in scenes from his childhood in a clown-like manner, he returns to a distant and impersonal viewpoint in Model Images (Images modèles) which he creates according to the guidelines of “accepted” or “classical” photography. He is one of the principal founders of “art photography” and his work on “average taste” anticipates developments in post-conceptual art. From 1984 with series such as Shadows (Ombres), Monuments (Monuments), Reliquaries (Reliquaires) and Reserves (Réserves), his work takes on a darker tone. The materials from his early works are re-used in dramatic installations that are haunted by the idea of death. The questioning of existence becomes a prominent theme in his work, as illustrated by the work presented at Documenta 8 in Kassel in 1987. In 1988, clothing becomes a key material in the artist?s work; a ghostly mark of the individual. Cataloguing and filing, and later an obsession with lists, characterize the artist?s work from the 1990s, reminding us that within a group or a mass, the individual is what is important. From 1990 to 2000, Christian Boltanski becomes interested in performance, which extends and enriches his fine art work. At the same time, his exhibitions become more narrative and staged, creating a global work based around a single theme: Time, Memory, the Human Being, Death… He now favours projects with a humanistic content that fall within the register of the fable. In this spirit of allegorical and utopian works, Christian Boltanski has been collecting recordings of heartbeats from all around the world since 2005 as part of his project destined for the Japanese island of Teshima, entitled The Archives of the Heart (Les Archives du coeur). In Tasmania, another permanent utopian installation was recently created: the artist sold his life in an annuity to a collector (video recording of his work and activities in his studio). In 2010, the unique visual and sound installation Monumenta / Personnes was created especially for the Grand Palais in Paris. In this work, the artist continues his reflection on the limits of humanity and the importance of memory, on destiny and the inevitability of death. Personnes was later installed at The Park Avenue Armory in New York and in the Hangar Bicocca in Milan. Jean-Hubert Martin Jean-Martin Hubert has played a key role in some of the world?s most important museums. He has worked as director of the Bern Kunsthalle, the Centre Pompidou National Modern Art Museum and The National Museum of African and Oceanic Arts. He was the director of the Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf before deciding to devote himself to the conception and curatorship of exhibitions. From the famous Magicians of the Earth (Magiciens de la terre) in 1989 which played an important role in altering perceptions of 20th century art to the successful Against Exclusion (Contre l?exclusion) as part of the 2009 Moscow Biennale, Jean- Hubert Martin has continued to occupy a key position in the international art scene. He has regularly exhibited Christian Boltanski in his exhibitions, for example, in The Magicians of the Earth and the more recent Breaking News (Ultime Notizie) in Milan in 2004. 

Scheda Evento

Giardini di Castello, Fondamenta Dell'Arsenale - VENEZIA