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Christian Boltanski Animitas

Christian Boltanski: Animitas 2016

Animitas is one of Christian Boltanski’s most impressive large scale outdoor installations. It is composed of over 200 small Japanese bells attached to long stems planted in the ground. The bells, chiming to the wind, let out the “music of the soul” which continue to ring with the wind, a sound that remains even when no one is listening. These are placed as to reproduce the map of the stars on the night the artist was born, September 6th, 1944. Animitas refers to the altars that native Indians put on the side of the road to honour the dead. The artist believed that we are surrounded by ghosts, which is materialised by these bells.


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.

“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.”