DEUS EX BOLTANSKI
by Robert Gardner
In 2010 the much beloved and admired French artist Christian Boltanski was given the immense confines of the Grand Palais in Paris to install a piece entitled PERSONNES. For the French, 'personne' means both a person and a no one. The installation was concerned with the presence and absence of people in an enormous amount (30 tons) of clothing. When Boltanski sees a discarded coat he is seeing a dead person who has left that coat behind. There are a great number of dead people in this MONUMENTA installation.
Robert Gardner has known Boltanski since the 1970s, when he invited him to the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard as a visting artist, and the following years since Boltanski has become a major figure in the art world. Gardner and photographer Michael Hutcherson travelled to Paris to make a film about Boltanski and the PERSONNES installation process.