Christian Boltanski, No Man’s Land
Park Avenue Armory
May 14 – June 13
Last weekend I walked over to Park Avenue Armory to see Christian Boltanski’s No Man’s Land. Other than reading Dorothy Spears’ New York Times review, I wasn’t familiar with Boltanski’s work ~ but I do have a soft spot for themes such as the arbitrariness of death and survival so it seemed like a good way to spend the day.
The piece incorporates 30 tons of discarded clothing, a 60-foot crane and the sound of human heartbeats. It explores the signature motifs of the artist’s forty-year career – individuality, anonymity, life and death. Visitors are invited to record their own heartbeat and offer it to the artist as he continues to expand his Archives du coeur, a collection of human heartbeats from around the world.
In chatting with one of the guards about the piece- she shared that Boltanski wanted “ordinary people” operating the cranes. The most interesting part for her was that every union crane operator brought a different style to the piece. So each day, the piece was different.
Sadly, I was a little underwhelmed with the installation – wanting and expecting a more layered experience.
“We are all so complicated, and then we die. We are a subject one day, with our vanities, our loves, our worries, and then one day, abruptly, we become nothing but an object, an absolutely disgusting pile of shit. We pass very quickly from one stage to the next. It’s very bizarre. It will happen to all of us, and fairly soon too. We become an object you can handle like a stone, but a stone that was someone.”