Contemporary Art Exhibition > Christian Boltanski
Contemporary Art Exhibition > New York
No Man’s Land
Park Avenue Armory
May 14 - June 13, 2010
French artist Christian Boltanski will create a monumental new work for Park Avenue Armory’s soaring 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall, filling the space with thousands of pieces of discarded clothing and a soundtrack of reverberating heartbeats. This installation will be Christian Boltanski’s largest and most ambitious project ever staged in the United States—an affecting and poetic spectacle that explores concepts of human identity, memory, and loss. On view from May 14 – June 13, 2010, Christian Boltanski’s No Man’s Land is the second project in Park Avenue Armory’s annual commissioning program, responding to the Armory’s rich history and the immense volume of its drill hall.
“Christian Boltanski is one of France’s most important contemporary artists, and this will be the first opportunity for American audiences to experience his work on such an incredible scale,” stated Rebecca Robertson, President of Park Avenue Armory. “The goal of our annual commissioning program is to give artists the opportunity to use the Armory’s scale and unusual character to create works not possible in traditional galleries or theaters. The drill hall and the audience in it become part of the work, not just a container for it. In contrast to the exuberance and playfulness of the Ernesto Neto commission from last year, the installation by Christian Boltanski is an emotional contemplation of humanity, mortality, and individuality.”
Upon entering the drill hall, visitors will be faced with a massive sixty-six-foot-long wall of stacked oxidized biscuit tins, around which they will encounter a landscape of discarded clothing. The Armory’s immense drill hall will be covered with thousands of pieces of used clothing, organized in 45 rectangular plots and culminating in a 25-foot-high mountain of garments. A five-story crane with a large construction claw will grab clumps of clothing from the mountain, hoist them 50 feet in the air, and then drop them so that the individual pieces will flutter down back into the massive pile. In addition to the mechanical noises of the crane and claw, the work will be further animated by the pounding sound of thousands of human heartbeats. Visitors will be able to record their own heartbeats in one of the Armory’s period rooms as part of Boltanski’s ongoing project, the Archives du Coeur.
“No Man’s Land is a vision reminiscent of Gustav Doré’s famous illustrations of Dante’s Inferno that continues Boltanski’s exploration of humanity’s capacity for evil,” stated Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and curator of the exhibition. “Boltanski himself compares the claw to ‘chance’ or life ‘as a game of dice.’”
No Man's Land is a companion piece to Personnes, an installation at the Grand Palais in Paris that opened in January 2010 as part of Monumenta. Both installations draw upon a shared vocabulary and materials, yet take on much of their meaning from the specific building and city within which each is created. In another version, the work will be presented in summer 2010 at the Hangar de Biccoca in Milan.
About Christian Boltanski
Considered one of France’s greatest contemporary artists, Christian Boltanski was born in occupied Paris in 1944 and currently lives and works in Malakoff, France. Noted for his work which explores issues of memory, loss, individuality, and anonymity, Christian Boltanski was recently selected to represent France in the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Christian Boltanski has recently had solo exhibitions the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2009); Magasin 3, Stockholm (2008); and La Maison Rouge, Paris (2008). His work has been the focus of major exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1990); New Museum, New York (1988); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1988); and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1984). Christian Boltanski’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and Paris.
Installation Organization and Credits
Organized by Park Avenue Armory, No Man's Land is a companion piece to Personnes, an installation at the Grand Palais in Paris that opened in January 2010 as part of Monumenta, an annual initiative of the Ministère de la culture et communication, co-produced by the Centre national des arts plastiques, the Grand Palais and the Reunion des musées nationaux. Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, is the curator of the exhibition.
The installation is made possible by The Pershing Square Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund, with additional support from the Booth Ferris Foundation, Bloomberg, Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky, Grand Marnier Foundation, Kenneth Kuchin, The Lauder Foundation/Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, CulturesFrance, and the Robert Lehman Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.