The Importance of Each Person

The conflict in Syria first got my attention five or six years ago. Around the same time I read a piece about Christian Boltanski, a French conceptual artist. He created a piece in the Grand Palais called Personnes made from recorded heartbeats and used clothing (you can read more about the work here). Six years later, I've been thinking about Syria, and Boltanski's Personnes jumped to the forefront of my mind: "The plots are where people are waiting, not in very good condition, but they are waiting. When visitors walk around they look like part of the piece."

Christian Boltanksi's Personnes in the Grand Palais, Paris, France. 2010. Video taken from HLG Films.

I had decided to read up a bit more about Boltanski when I remembered that I had seen one of his pieces before in person, although I didn't realize it at the time. I was seventeen in a museum in Houston. The work grabbed me, big time; I felt it from the ground up and into my heart. Boltanski's specific perspective on memory and death, on person hood, has a pull on me. Christian Boltanski might be seen as cold, but I think he has high a respect for the person in a world that is indifferent to them.

Christian Boltanski, Monument to the Lycee Chases. Gelatin silver prints, biscuit tins, electric cables, and sixty-eight lightbulbs. 1989. This is the piece that I saw as a teenager in Houston. Image taken from Digicult.


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