Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski

Sesc Pompeia

Christian Boltanski, 19.924.458 +/-, 2014. Photo: Cassio Vasconcellos.

April 10, 2014

Boltanski 19.924.458 +/-
April 9–June 29, 2014

SESC Pompeia
Rua Clélia, 93
Pompeia, São Paulo

T +11 3871 7700

Christian Boltanski, one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists, comes to SESC Pompeia for the first-time presentation of a large-scale installation of a city: São Paulo. The artist, who represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and was present in three editions of Documenta in Kassel, Germany (to name just a few examples of his participation in the international scene), conceived this project after visiting São Paulo’s capital city last year, a project which reaffirms the synthesis of the investigation present in all his art: the enigma of life and death.

Occupying approximately 1,400 square meters (over 15,000 square feet) in SESC Pompeia’s communal space, the installation is a dense concentration of 950 towers (skyscrapers) constructed of corrugated cardboard and papered with pages from telephone directories. In Boltanski – 19,924,458 +/- (the number oscillates in accord with the population of São Paulo), the movement of lights at alternating intervals becomes an indicator of births and deaths in the São Paulo megalopolis.

As the public makes its way through the space—or gets an aerial view of the city from a platform—it will experience situations that illuminate the artist’s poetics, that is, questions of memory, identity, absence, loss and death. The installation, pulsing to the frequency of individuals disappearing and others coming into existence, leverages the issues Boltanski wants to provoke.

However, as the curator Marcello Dantas emphasizes, the artist invokes a memory without value judgment, and for this reason, different truths can be found under the same mantle. “This ability to create situations in which the spectator starts to deposit his own memory in the space created by Boltanski is the greatest feat of his art,” Dantas points out.

In addition, according to the curator, the French artist’s installations are fertile ground for interpretation even as they reference the memory of things—the memory contained within objects. “For him, the objects serve as mute testimony to suffering and the human experience,” the curator adds.

Boltanski often compares himself to the kind of philosopher who investigates humanity’s great issues through images and installations that operate on an emotional level. He also compares himself to such restless artists as the French artist Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), who focuses in depth on just a few themes in all her art.

In addition to this installation, while in SESC Pompeia the artist will be continuing the investigation he has been conducting around the world. In the Heart Booth—more a process than a work—people are invited to record their own heart. Boltanski maintains this array of heartbeats in an ever-growing collection.

The historical events that have accompanied Christian Boltanski’s life—such as the end of the Great War and the liberation of Paris—mark all of his work. As a fourteen-year old, he devoted himself to painting. At 27, he gained recognition for exhibitions at Sonnabend Gallery in 1971 and Documenta in Kassel in 1972, and continued to distinguish himself in the international scene with a series of exhibitions in the United States that began in 1987, travelling to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and then, in the 1990s, to numerous European museums. Over time, the artist came to work increasingly with light and shadows, creating the series “Monuments,” “Reserves” and “Lessons of Darkness,” which summarize a kind of theme in this period.

In the early 2000s, Boltanski turns to large-scale installations and participates in sound installations. It is also in this period that he begins his Heart Archives project (Archives Du Coeur). His installations become more complex with the use of sound as movement. Boltanski’s works are an affirmation of total artwork, l’Art Total. During much of his life, he devoted himself to teaching and he produced more than 100 books of various artists. Christian Boltanski lives and works in Malakoff, outside Paris, but spends most of his time travelling to create new projects around the world.

In addition to the editions of Documenta V (1972), VI (1977) and VIII (1987), and the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), Boltanski has had major exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou Paris (1984), at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Los Angeles (1988), and at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1990). In Brazil, he participated in the International Art Biennale of São Paulo (1996) and had his first solo show in the country at the Casa França-Brasil (Rio de Janeiro) in 2012. Recently, between individual appearances, his exhibition highlights include ones at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany (2013), at the Park Avenue Armory in New York (2010), and at Serpentine Gallery, London (2010).

Lecture with Christian Boltanski: April 8 (time and location to be determined)
Tickets to be acquired an hour in advance.

For information about other programs, call T +0800 118220 or visit the website.

Press information
Press Service for the project
Pool de Comunicação – Marcy Junqueira
T +11 3032 1599 / T +11 99211 1782
Contacts: Marcy Junqueira and Luana Ferrari
marcy [​at​] [​at​]

Press relations At SESC Pompeia
Roberta Della Noce: T +11 3871 7740
Igor Cruz: T +11 3871 7776
Cláudia Souza: T +11 3871 7720
imprensa [​at​]


Christian Boltanski at SESC Pompeia
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