Christian Boltanski's Failed Meta-Archive

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  • Laura Lopez Paniagua
The installation "The Archive of the Grandparents", 1995, is the result of a collaborative, site-specific project developed by artist Christian Boltanski and the students of Leuphana Universitat of Luneburg (Germany). The archive contains the mementos of the grandparents of students of that generation. It is a significant piece within the context of the artist's oeuvre because it does not comply with the habitual characteristics of his archive N,Vorks, which i term "meta-archives" due to their postmodern stance, which materialises in the destabilisation the concept of archive, and in consequence, of those of document and of history as well. The project brought to the fore the ubiquitous and tacit silence around the period of the Third Reich within German families, and propitiated the resurfacing of this past. It also foregrounded the Nazi past of the Leuphana campus. For these reasons, and despite the fact that it could be considered a "failed meta archive", it is still pertinent and relevant at a sociocultural level and also, within Boltanski's oeuvre, as it brings to light his habitual goals and strategies precisely because in this case, they are not followed.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number92
Pages (from-to)297-313
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2020

    Research areas

  • Christian Boltanski, contemporary art, archive, instalation, postmemoiy, Holocaust, Nazism, historical memory, biography