On view this fall in New York City, Marian Goodman will present Départ – Arrivée, a solo presentation by Christian Boltanski that marks the first exhibition in the United States of a number of recent works by the iconic French artist. Mostly conceived by Boltanski himself before his passing in July 2021, the show is an homage to his life and work, offering a lens into the metaphysical preoccupations that drove his artistic practice for over fifty years. The exhibition reflects Boltanski’s ability to suggest the passage of time and the precariousness of our existence as well as his powerful skill as a universal storyteller. Bringing together works from two different time periods, the exhibition demonstrates how the artist, throughout the years, had become more and more interested in creating parabolas beyond the materiality of his works.
The artist’s approach towards history and memory, space and experience remained an ongoing part of his practice, from his early works on through his more recent pieces, including the video installation Subliminal (2020), one of the last artworks created by the artist. The installation spreads over four large projections on which hackneyed images of joyful moments and “cliché” imagery is used as a cover for a series of horrifying historical depictions that complicate readings of the wealth, prosperity and violence of the 20th Century. This is countered by works like Animitas (Mères Mortes) (2017) , another video work placed along with a bed of gravelly sand to momentarily bring the viewer to the shores of the Dead Sea , and to express a physical continuation of the quiet desert landscape, inviting visitors to enter a meditative state.
In the North Gallery, the word Départ in red lightbulbs greets the visitor and marks the debut of a journey through the exhibition towards Arrivée in blue located on the third floor. Presented for the first time at Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris in 2015, the diptych Départ – Arrivée (2015), echoes the voyage of life and has since become an iconic piece, included in his important retrospectives in Korea, France, Japan, and Israel. In an adjacent viewing room, Crépuscule (2015), composed of 99 light bulbs, is viewable from its threshold. The floor piece functions as a countdown for the days of the show, fading away at the rhythm of three light bulbs each day. The room, bright and dazzling on the first day of the show, gradually becomes dark, resulting in the complete extinction of light.
The show closes October 15th, 2022.
– D. Creahan
Marian Goodman [Exhibition Site]