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In Memoriam : Christian Boltanski (1944-2021) by Sylvie Rebbot


I discovered Christian Boltanski‘s work thanks to Christian Caujolle in 1997 in Arles.

He had exhibited at the Chapelle St Anne just next to the town hall (Réserve des Suisses Morts). Archive boxes stacked on top of each other. The Archives were my domain, I had run some of them, to me it meant something else,  those that went missing. And every evening before joining the friends at the Place du Forum I stopped, climbed the steps of the Chapel and in the silence and freshness I went to greet the missing.

That same year, the W. Eugene Smith award folks asked me to present a French artist and I suggested Christian Boltanski who received the award. The following year I had bought his book Kaddish and I had put in it the only photo I have of my grandparents who died in Auschwitz, the only photo in the book that had a name and a memory that I learned from my mother.

The book and the symbol were very strong for me.

I met Christian Boltanski much later at a screening in Beaubourg, there were people and noise and drinks, it was neither the place nor the time to talk about the photo of my grandparents.

R.I.P Christian.

Sylvie Rebbot

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