At the beginning of 2010, Christian Boltanski - invited by the Head Curator Alexia Fabre - creates and implements the second part of his exhibition-event. His presence at Vitry-sur-Seine, from January 15 to March 28, 2010, annotates one of the major objectives of the museum – presenting honorific figures of contemporary art in France. For the MAC/VAL, Christian Boltanski designed a completely new and powerful installation baptized “Après”, presented like a blockbuster, inciting the audience to jointly experience this imaginary world, a world far and beyond. This is a new stroke of genius for the French artist Christian Boltanski who designed an exhibit “Personnes/Après” - two stories which are unconnected and independent on the surface, but which both plunge the visitor to the heart of the artist’s most intimate obsessions. For over three decades he’s incessantly repeated and broken down themes inherent to human fate with the ever-present question of identity and dangerous division between truth and illusion. For this exhibition in two distinct places, Christian Boltanski continues developing this unclassifiable work of art, a universe where emotion remains inalienable with categorical concerns.
For his MAC/VAL installation, he again achieves to radically transform the museum space into a rhapsodic playground, appealing the visitors to literally adventure to the “other side” for the unlikely experience of the “Après”. Anonymous crowds defiantly walk past on the three curtains leading to the exhibition room. As soon as a visitor enters, these images stop. Perfectly controlling the smallest details and deleting all form of natural light, the public discovers the installation and becomes a spectator-actor of a disturbing ghost town, happening across strange encounters while wandering about. Christian Boltanski’s walking men are shadows among the deceased, constantly asking the same questions, “And how did you die? Did you suffer a lot?...”. Far from giving any answers, this torrent of riddles results in new questions, entangling the visitor in a universe alternating between absurdly serious and ludicrous.
“Après”, is an environment which puzzles reality, upsetting values and jostling interpretations, waivering all your senses.
This new proposition is part of the overall work of the artist which he defines as a cluster simultaneously revealing endless problems and a non-desire to ever want to have them resolved. Christian Boltanski’s work can be interpreted as having no real story, but that this story is continuously reinventing its own geography.
Boltanski is a good-natured and enigmatic painter who has chosen to tell us little stories in his two-act exhibition, by using the graphic vocabulary of his time. For the MAC/VAL and the Grand Palais, he displays his installations as he would paintings for a play. According to his own words, it’s all about merging “the visual arts which are an art in space and theatre which is an art in time … For this project, I’m trying to combine both and create a progression. We’re no longer in front of something but more inside something. That’s what really interests me today.”