Christian Boltanski's votive installations, archives and objects, revolving around the fragile polarities of memory and amnesia, identity and anonymity, have made him one of the world's most renowned contemporary artists. And yet, despite the centrality of biography and testimony to his work, Boltanski's own story is little known and has never been fully told. Published on the occasion of the artist's sixty-fifth birthday, The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski, written in the form of a book-length interview (which the artist likens to a psychoanalysis or confession) with the art historian Catherine Grenier, is Boltanski's oral autobiography. In it, he recounts his unusual wartime childhood (my mother hid my father under the floorboards. He stayed there for a year and a half, between two floors in the house. He'd come out from time to time--I'm living proof of that!), his career, friendships and marriage, successes and regrets, his approaches to art and teaching, how he created various installations, his relations with dealers and the public, and other matters that illuminate as never before his complex, enigmatic works. Boltanski is refreshingly phlegmatic about the realities of the world (art and otherwise), and he relates his remarkable stories--some enormously amusing, others tragic--with a matter-of-factness and self-deprecating humor that highlight his capacity for humane responsiveness. As both the self-portrait of a major contemporary artist and a frank, fascinating memoir, this is a document of capital importance.
Christian Boltanski: Born in 1944 in Paris, Christian Boltanski is a contemporary French conceptual artist. He is best known for his photographic installations.Throughout his career, he has revived memories filtered out in the course of history, presenting the lives (existences) and deaths (extinctions) of anonymous individuals and of groups whose history is fading. His work can be found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.