Chance by Christian Boltanski

I have to admit that a lot of what passes for contemporary art leaves me either cold or confused or both.
So to find myself heading over to Carriageworks, the old steam rail workshops in Redfern, that’s now been transformed into an arts industry hub of performance rehearsal space, dance companies and theater groups to see a major installation work by French artist Christian Boltanski was a bit of a surprise.
I’d read some good reviews about it though and being an open minded sort of chap was looking forward to see what all the fuss was about.
Christian Boltanski is acknowledged worldwide as one of the most influential artists of his generation, although I have to admit to never having heard of him before, his work “Chance”, is confusingly, actually three intertwined pieces.
The main installation called “The Wheel of Fortune” is an olympic pool length framework of scaffolding, looking for all the world like an old newspaper press, whizzing around inside this press is a film-strip of photographs.The photographs are taken from the birth announcement pages of Polish newspapers and show tightly cropped images of new born babies.
At either end of this installation is the second part of “Chances”, twin towers of more scaffolding that make up “Last News from Humans”, they are digital counters, one red, and one green, they run 24 hours a day and represent the number of births (green) and the number of deaths (red) around the world each minute. The rapid turnover signifying just how fast a life begins and ends. Apparently 200,000 more born per day than die.
The third and last piece that makes up the show is called “Be New”, Christian has cut photographs into three parts the faces of sixty Polish newborns and fifty two deceased Swiss adults.
They run on two flat screen computer screens, the idea is you take the chance and create a person, pressing a button to freeze the screen at random to create your new best friend.
What does it all mean? well I’m not sure, but as renowned art critic John McDonald puts it ” Chance has a dualistic perspective, giving equal weight to both birth and death. The mystery is what happens in-between, as lives follow diverse paths dictated not merely by the place of one’s birth, or economic circumstances, but by sheer luck

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1 reply »

  1. fascinating concept. Is it art, is it instillation, is it sculpture? which ever, you certainly have to admire the amount of thought and effort used.

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