christian boltanski's grosse hamburger strasse at kewenig
christian boltanski's grosse hamburger strasse at kewenig christian boltanski's grosse hamburger strasse at kewenig
oct 19, 2013

christian boltanski's grosse hamburger strasse at kewenig

christian boltanski: grosse hamburger strasse at kewenig
images cachées, 2012
photographic print on linen cloth, acrylic paint, metal frame, installation on iron rod
photographic print: 150 x 110 cm, Iron rod: 198 x 166 cm
image courtesy kewenig berlin, photo by simon vogel




christian boltanski
kewenig, berlin
now through november 9th, 2013



french artist christian boltanski presents ‘grosse hamburger strasse’ at kewenig, berlin: an artistic archive which references many of the major works throughout his career. the exhibition features photographic installations throughout the gallery of images he collected during his research for ‘the missing house’, an artwork which saw boltanski create panels with personal data of former residents of a house destroyed during WWII mounted onto the walls of the ruined space. while working on ‘the missing house’, boltanski came across a picture that would become a source of influence for many artworks: a black-and-white photograph of a group of children from the former jewish school in grosse hamburger strasse. the young students were born into an age of war and persecution, and it is likely that many of them perished over the next decade of destruction.



christian boltanski
stèles, 2012
photographic prints on linen cloth in metal construction, on metal steles
1 x 69 x 49 cm, h 202 cm; 5 x 49 x 39 cm, h 202 cm; 4 x 38,5 x 38 cm, h 181 cm
image courtesy kewenig berlin, photo by simon vogel



boltanski repeatedly uses the same photograph, manipulating it in medium and expression, each time finding a different artistic language. the portraits are mementos of other people’s lives, saturated with history, and witnesses to cultural memories. by using them in his artwork, boltanski speaks through the personalities of the pictured, memorializing their fates. the exhibition showcases enlarged images of the children bearing smiling faces, translated into frames, and hung on the gallery walls. each bears a small light pointed directly at them, somewhat obscuring them from view. the light that touches the anonymous face acts as a disturbing reminder that once, the child stood affront a camera and had their picture taken, in a time when perhaps their radiance wasn’t masked by the suffering of war. iterations of the photos appear throughout the exhibition, some with electrical cords haphazardly draped around, others blown up to massive proportions. the haunting environment intermingles emotion and history, spotlighting the significance of each individual by meticulously reconstructing traces of the past.



portraits on the wall with a light directing onto the faces
image courtesy kewenig berlin


images of the schoolchildren
image courtesy kewenig berlin


a large-scale picture of a child’s face
image courtesy kewenig berlin


as part of the installation, the pictures are translated into colored frames and strung with lights
image courtesy kewenig berlin


electrical cords haphazardly draped around the images
image courtesy kewenig berlin


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