Tuesday 10th October 2017

Christian Boltanski

The use of artefacts in Christian Boltanski’s work is important as research because I am looking at how we identify with a homeland and objects that we keep as remembrance of a past life.

In the late Sixties, Boltanski began an on-going project under the general heading ‘Reconstructions of My Youth’. He made use in particular of exhibits – more in the forensic than the artistic sense – which were presented in museum vitrines and ‘documentary’ booklets of photos. There was Research and Presentation of All that Remains of My Childhood: a handful of photos, fragments of cloth, hair, exercise and reading books. There was a booklet of 10 Portrait Photographs of Christian Boltanski, which were revealed in fact to be pictures of other children, aged two to 20, all taken in 1972 by Boltanski’s partner, the artist Annette Messenger. The questions posed are clear enough. How recoverable is anyone’s past? How unique or integral is anyone’s identity? How reliable is any evidence for these things?


The images below are from Objects belonging to a young man and objects belonging to a lady from Baden Baden

Annette Messager

Married to Christian Boltanski, a French Visual Artist who also uses objects in her work.

In the 1990s, Messager began to work with soft toys, a replacement for the real taxidermy birds she used in the 1970s. In Fables and Tales, 1991, the soft creatures are cruelly squeezed between piles of books.


The Boyle Family

Boyle Family is best known for the earth studies: three dimensional casts of the surface of the earth which record and document random sites with great accuracy. These works combine real material from the site (stones, dust, twigs etc) with paint and resins, preserving the form of the ground to make unique one-off pieces that suggest and offer new interpretations of the environment, combining a powerful conceptual framework with a strong and haunting physical and visual presence.
These ideas are strongly enshrined in the major Boyle Family work, World Series, initiated in 1968 as part of the exhibition Journey to the Surface of the Earth at the Institute of Contemporary Arts London. The World Series has been developed over the past forty years alongside a number of parallel and related series and projects including: the London Series; Tidal Series; Thaw Series; Japan Series. Each of these groups of work has involved various random selection techniques to isolate a rectangle of the Earth’s surface. In the case of the World Series 1000 sites were chosen at random by visitors to the artists’ studio and the ICA exhibition. Participants were blindfolded and either threw a dart or fired an air rifle at an unseen wall-sized map of the world, which now forms part of the work itself.


David Bohm

David Joseph Bohm (20 December 1917 – 27 October 1992) was an American-born British quantum physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of theoretical physics, philosophy and neuropsychology

The entire universe must, on a very accurate level, be regarded as a single indivisible unit in which separate parts appear as idealisations permissible only on a classical level of accuracy of description. This means that the view of the world being analogous to a huge machine, the predominant view from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, is now shown to be only approximately correct. The underlying structure of matter, however, is not mechanical. This means that the term “quantum mechanics” is very much a misnomer. It should, perhaps, be called “quantum nonmechanics”.

~ Quantum Theory (1951)

Alan Watts

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.


Migration Museum

Keepsakes is a display of personal items that keep memories of migration and identity alive. Museum collections represent society’s decisions about what objects are valuable enough to hand down to future generations. But museum objects matter less to most people than the objects their parents and grandparents chose to pass on to them, and which they hand on to their own children and grandchildren.


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