Working in painting, photography, film, sculpture and installation, Christian Boltanski addresses themes of identity, childhood, existence, oblivion, and death, exploring how these become part of our individual and collective memory. For the past several decades, his practice has focused on the notion of the archive, of fragments and proof, while also questioning the social impulses that underlie the act of collecting, classifying and archiving around which history and our own identity are constructed. Known primarily for installations that deal with themes of disappearance and memory, Boltanski has also created works in the form of mail art, vitrines, found objects and false biographies. Symbolically charged, the materials he uses—which include family photo albums, historical photographs, newspaper clippings and used clothing that alludes to missing persons—are intended to evoke a strong emotional response from the viewer.

The Archives of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 1992, Metal shelves, 336 cardboard boxes, 336 labels, 196 photographs and 16 electric lamps.
© Succession Christian Boltanski / SOCAN (2022) • Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay