christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011
 
christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011
jun 14, 2011

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011

‘the wheel of fortune’ by christian boltanski at venice art biennale 2011 image © designboom

created for the french pavilion, paris-born artist christian boltanski presents ‘chance’ at the venice art biennale 2011. a thematic exploration of its namesake, this exhibition playfully explores the luck and fate of newborns, whose beginnings are subject entirely to chance. while the title translated in french has a positive connotation of luck and good fortune, the english interpretation conversely suggests hazard or risk, rendering the exhibition appropriately ambiguous.

for ‘the wheel of fortune,’ the main room in the pavilion contains a moving loop of paper upon which hundreds of childrenʼs faces have been printed. traversing across structural steel piping, the strip stops randomly from time to time and an alarm sounds, illuminating one of the childrenʼs faces on an oversized screen. the process then starts over, until the walkway stops again and the alarm signals fateʼs next choice.

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011installation view of ‘the wheel of fortune’ image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

indistinct from one another, the babies are incapable of making their own choices, yet each has the possibility of spotlighted, however briefly, in this installation.

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image strip illuminated by natural light image © designboom

despite its mechanical system, the building’s design permits light rays to travel through and illuminate the babies’ faces, rendering an atmosphere that is lighter than boltanski’s previous works.

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011detail of the moving strip image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011 ‘the births’ by christian boltanski image © designboom

in two side rooms, oversized digital counters enumerate the worldʼs population for the diptych ‘last news from humans.’ ‘the deaths’ displays the world’s daily total of deaths in red, while ‘the births’ displays the counterpart figure in green. the numbers are tabulated every evening at midnight, with the number of births on average 200,000 higher than the number of deaths. 

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011‘be new’ by christian boltanski image © designboom

‘be new’ is an interactive game, exploring determinism versus free will in the lineage of familial resemblance. as a screen projects a jumbled grid of fragments from both infant and elderly faces,  viewers are challenged to click at the exact moment when a face is displayed in its complete composition. to induce global participation, the artist has also created a website for the game, boltanski : chance. lucky winners will be sent a surprise personally by the artist.

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011image © designboom

christian boltanski: chance at venice art biennale 2011 artist christian boltanski portrait © designboom

— commissioned by institut français, the french pavilion is curated by jean-hubert martin and located at the giardini venue.

the 54th international art exhibition in venice, italy, runs until november 27, 2011.

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