Christian Boltanski, as an artist, has placed an importance on the theme of memories and how they can be used to suppress the idea of despair. Memories are seen as a powerful tool in order to diffuse these ideas of despair and disillusionment in a modern world. A large portion of humanity has learned to base most of their individual identities on collective experiences as a whole. Much of Boltanski’s work explores how some of that individualism gets lost within shared experiences through the concept of memory. As an artist, this significant theme used in his work has helped re-establish a certain sense of belonging in correlation to his own identity and what it has transformed into. This form of remembering is incorporated in his own work as a way of defining his universal sense of belonging. Christian Boltanski presents a collective understanding over the loss of his true identity in his work involving the theme of memories through the representation of images and material objects.
Boltanski has contributed to the art world for several years now and through that time; the media (as well as other observational sources) has kept an overflowing archive of information on him as an artist. Although most of the information we, as viewers, remember him by are most likely true, we can never really know how much these opinions and observations about him have altered his sense of self and what he truly belongs to. Boltanski has expressed in multiple interviews how these biographies have slowly disintegrated the story of his life and how his work has illustrated a new purpose his life now represents.
Being a multi-media artist, Boltanski has expressed his ideas and messages through numerous types of elements in his works. Photography has played a huge role in his work as well as his life, being a medium commonly associated with truth. Working with the idea that memory shapes our sense of reality, he constantly uses images in order to reinvent or connect with the past (Caines 1). Boltanski himself has discussed his belief on how his life has become more mythical with every interview and biography that is made about him-- “The more biographies and texts there are, the more the person becomes mythical” (McGurren 1). He further stated:
“In my early work I pretend to speak about my childhood, yet my real childhood had disappeared. I have lied about it so often that I no longer have a real memory of this time, and my childhood has become, for me, some kind of universal childhood, not a real one.” (Borchardt-Hume 2)
Boltanski plays with the idea of representation and the role of memory as a means to identify, in a global sense, with everyone and no one. His use of photography highlights the fact that there was never an original pure identity to the past, but recreated moments telling the story of a memory that once was (Caines 7).
In Boltanski’s book, La Vie Impossible, he presents the ideas of memory and representation through collage and text and how...