The Foto-Medium-Art Gallery is displaying more than 100 photos of what look like normal people of different ages and genders doing normal things.
Viewers are in for a shock, however. Some of the photos that Christian Boltanski picked are portraits. Others capture people in such everyday situations such as conversations, playing games or sunbathing.
At first viewers may get the impression that the photographs are kind of a family album. Then they realize they are reproductions of prints in the same magazine, in the same colors – and similar sizes. That’s because Boltanski cut them from the French magazine “Detective.”
He created his Accident Chronicle exhibition in 1973.
The photos are all of people involved in crimes ? murders, assaults, robberies, rapes, kidnappings and others. He created the exhibition in 1973.
By cutting the pictures out of the magazine, the artist deprives them of context. We don’t know who is criminal and who is victim.
The exhibition tells us something about ourselves. Looking at the photos, many viewers began trying to figure out who is criminal and who is victim by their looks. But some of the criminals can be good-looking and some of the victims homely.
Viewers also begin wondering what kind of crime someone experienced, especially when looking at the photos of children.
The approach that Boltanski took made his work a social and sociological exercise. He forced the viewer to become involved in the art. No one who sees the exhibit can feel indifferent about it.
The project comes from a phase of Boltanski’s artistic activities when he was starting to undermine the myth of modernist originality by using stereotypical pictures of mass culture ? press and promotional photos.
In this case he created a nostalgic but disturbing world. At the same time he cast a spotlight on photography as an art medium. The work shows how an artist can influence the structure of the message by choosing this work strategically.
Boltanski was born in 1944 in Paris to a Jewish father of Ukrainian heritage and a Corsican mother. He spent his early years hiding from the Nazis.
Boltanski started painting as a teen-ager in 1958. His early paintings were big. They depicted historical events or, on occasion, lonely figures in macabre settings, such as coffins.
In the 1960s he began moving from painting to other art forms, including film, photography and performance.
The line between his life and work often blurs, but not in a romantic, self-sacrificing way. Boltanski recasts incidents from a life he has never lived, using touched-up photographs or items he has never possessed.
Several of Boltanski’s projects have involved displays of lost luggage and other items from public spaces, such as railway stations. They memorialize the unknown owners in a cacophony of personal effects.
Boltanski lives in Paris. He has exhibited internationally at such museums venues as the Muse d’art modern de la ville de Paris; Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Holland; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Accident Chronicle (Jan. 30-Feb. 14). Foto-Medium-Art Gallery,
ul. Karmelicka 28/12
Tues-Fri 14-19, Sat 14-18.