NA – Christian Boltanski – Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
24 November 2017 – 29 April 2018

A radical and site specific exhibition by Christian Boltanski will be held in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam this fall. Boltanski is known as one of the greatest artists in the world, with a ouevre that deals with the way we remember and commemorate. In a lieu de mémoire like the Oude Kerk, with its eight centuries of history and 2,200 memorial stones, his work is very much at home. The artist is creating a site-specific composition consisting of seven different works that address the existential question of what happens after our life has come to an end. Considering the fact that Boltanski made a bet on his own life that expired this year, this work is very much autobiographical.

NA (after) is an exhibition that is expected to have a profound impact on the audience. The installations, which are in proportion to the size of the centuries-old church, are invasive and they address the visitor even in a literal sense. Over 50 black tombs, varying in size and height, arise from the existing gravestones, creating a new architectural layer. In between are so-called hommes qui marchent, walking figures. When you get close they ask you a question, like: ‘Tell me, are you lonely?’, ‘Tell me, where is your home?’ In the nave of the church lay coats worn by numerous inhabitants of the Amsterdam Red Light neighourhood. After the exhibition they will be returned to their owners. All other works will be destroyed. Christian Boltanski: ’A church, like the Oude Kerk, is a place to think. You spend time in this. And afterwards, you go back into the city with the cars and the shops and into your life.’

Christian Boltanski
Fascinated by collective memory, transience and the passing of time, Christian Boltanski (Paris, 1944) developed an impressive collection of sculptures, films and installations that deal with these subjects, either directly or indirectly. Boltanski very often uses found items, like in No Man’s Land (Drill Hall, New York 2010), an enormous mountain of worn clothes with the soundtrack of thousands of human beating hearts in the background, that accentuate the anonymity and destiny of human existence. Boltanski created Les Archives du Coeur, an auditory collection of human heartbeats in Naoshima (Japan), and he created various pieces for the Biennial in Venice, like the installation Chance in 2011, and received numerous national and international awards for his oeuvre. His work is part of the collection of the most prominent museums, among which MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; The Tate Collection, London, England; and in the Netherlands de Pont, Tilburg. His most recent solo exhibition was in this museum in 1996.

Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski

Public Programme
The early morning concert series Silence makes musical connections with the work of Boltanski on conceptual and spatial levels. Music curator Jacob Lekkerkerker collaborates with composer Frank Krawczyk (1969). Together with Krawczyk and Jean Kalman, Boltanski made a collective opera, this spring in Bologna. The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam is responsible for the educational programme, which targets, among others, high schools and wants to get young people to think about different ways of commemoration. An online and offline programme focuses on how we commemorate in our digital age; what happens online after death? Does our profile outlive us?
During the Amsterdam Art Weekend (23-26 November 2017) the Oude Kerk has invited world famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to engage with Christian Boltanski to talk about his work and the exhibition in the Oude Kerk.

Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk’s started in 2012 with an interhistorical programme in which contemporary art and history meet. It has gained a significant and increasing reputation in this field. The often controversial installations generate a fast-growing new audience for the arts; in the Oude Kerk the art experience is pivotal. The projects in the Oude Kerk always originate in the location itself (site-specific), in culturally historical values, and are mostly large scale (the church measures 3000 m2) and carefully put together; the building stems from 1306 and has a strict handbook. The neighbourhood and surrounding area are actively involved in any new works.

Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski

Photo: GJ.van ROOIJ

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