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Christian Boltanski Animitas

Christian Boltanski: Animitas 2016

Animitas is comprised of more than two hundred small Japanese bells, each of which is attached to a long stem planted on the island within Jupiter Artland’s Duck Pond. The bells chime in the wind, letting out what Boltanski described as the ‘music of the souls’.

Animitas is one of Christian Boltanski’s most impressive large scale outdoor installations. The bells are consciously placed to reproduce the map of the stars on the night the artist was born, 6 September 1944.

Boltanski’s commemoration of his own life is joined by a dedication to remembering the lives of others – Animitas was intended to be an auditory counterpart to the Chilean tradition of ‘animitas’ memorial shrines.

The unveiling of Animitas was accompanied by a temporary installation of Boltanski’s Les Archives du Coeur (The Heart Archive), which invited visitors to enter a specially designed booth and contribute a recording of their heartbeat. The resulting audio files were then added to an archive of recordings housed on the Japanese island of Teshima.

“What I try to do with my work is to ask questions, talk about philosophical things, not through stories with words, but stories through visual images. I talk about actually very simple things, common to all. I don’t talk about complicated things. What I’m trying to do is to remind people to forget that it’s art and think about it as life.”
Christian Boltanski


Born in Paris, France, in 1944. His mother of Corsican origin and a Catholic, was a writer; his father, a Ukrainian Jew from Odessa, was a physician. Boltanski’s childhood was marked by the postwar era and the Holocaust. At age 12 he left school and started to paint and that was when he decided to be an artist.

Death, life and identity were recurrent themes in his work, marked by an intention to file and remember that goes beyond what is explicitly present. Boltanski resorted to fragile materials (old photographs, used clothing, personal and used daily items, newspaper clippings, letters etc.) as evidence of the brevity of life.