Our farewell to a BIENALSUR accomplice: Christian Boltanski

2021/07/14

Shy, severe, generous, deep, respectful, precise, are some of the words that come to mind when thinking about Christian Boltanski, the French artist, who has just passed away. Memory occupied the center of his creative project, in search of that aspect of the human that equaled each and every one of us: in plurality and singularity at the same time.

Solitude in the crowd has been the fate of his existence, a modality that is visible in each of his works: from his first short films and the installations of Shadows to the Archives of the heart, including Chance, the installation where he dealt with three of his obsessions: chance, luck and misfortune. Also in his Monuments and interventions performed in emblematic sites like the crumbling church of Dresden or his great intervention Migrants, in the MUNTREF Headquarters at the Immigrants’ Hotel, a work process that took us more than two years, in which we learned to know one another and in which a long collaboration and friendship was cemented.

Boltanski was also one of the first "accomplices" of BIENALSUR. It was the site he chose to build what has been the project of the last stretch of his life: the myths. In 2017, we produced, on the Patagonian coast, his sound installation Mysteries in which he decided to ask the whales about the origin of the world. In 2019, he curated his work in progress Draw me a flag presented in public spaces in Buenos Aires and in Rio de Janeiro simultaneously, and was the protagonist of the exhibition Resident Alien with his Walkers and The last waltz. We were still working with great enthusiasm for this edition -which will become a homage to him- with his project Animitas with which, as a gesture for peace, he would intervene the Pinacoteca Vaticana and Les disparues, which is the work we have chosen to open the exhibition at the Emilio Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts, in Córdoba.

It will certainly be hard to think about going to Paris and not finding him in La Closerie des Lilas or in Le Deux Magots or the Café de Flore. It will be strange not to surprise him with an affectionate greeting on September 6, the day of his birthday. What we do know is that we will not be able to stop thinking with him, with his work and his way of thinking about the ways to intervene, from art.

Diana Wechsler and Anibal Jozami