364 Suisses Morts
Date 1990
Medium 364 silver gelatin prints, light bulbs and electric wire
Inventory ID UID 102-67
After an adolescence lacking regular schooling and artistic training, Christian Boltanski created large-format paintings between 1958 and 1967. From 1967 on, he moved away from painting and experimented with other modes of expression, such as the writing of letters or manuscripts, which he sent to personalities in the art world along with photocopies mixed with original documents and photographs taken from his family albums. In 1984 he wrote a biography for a catalogue: ‘1958. He painted, wanted to do art. 1968. He no longer bought modern art magazines, he had a crisis, he did photography, black-andwhite, tragic, human …’. In his 364 Suisses morts [364 dead Swiss], Boltanski uses illustrated obituaries clipped from the journal Le nouvelliste du Valais. Why the Swiss? ‘Previously, my works showed dead Jews, but “Jew” and “dead” go too well together. There is nothing more normal than a Swiss person. And therefore there is no reason for a Swiss person to die, so all these dead people are only all the more terrifying. They are us.’ Regarding the amateur ‘photographs of photographs’ in 364 Suisses morts, the photographic death is distanced. For the last dozen years, Boltanski has moved more and more towards the theatre and towards the concept of ceremony. J-FC