Christian Boltanski – Presentation

We were tasked with creating a presentation regarding an artist that was assigned to us. As each group was given different artists to research, it meant that individually, we would learn about a breadth of artists. I feel that by working in groups to research, we were more active in considering their methods and interpretations, rather than a lecturer talking at us, researching the artists ourselves developed skills that would be imperative for us as we become more self sufficient.

The piece we decided to research was called “The Reserve of Dead Swiss” due to the delicate subject matter of death (and in extension, the Holocaust) and Boltanski’s approach to its presentation.

The Reserve of Dead Swiss 1990 by Christian Boltanski born 1944

The Reserve of Dead Swiss 1990 Christian Boltanski

In terms of research, none of us were assigned to a particular question to research, we felt that by making a Google Doc we could all contribute our views. By assigned questions I felt that it meant limiting our exploration of the work. If all of us tackled the more in depth and less definitive questions, such as dimension, varying interpretations and opinions would surface. Despite this, I feel that perhaps a lack of direction was present as nobody was assigned responsibilities. While our group was mostly organised, if we all dealt with specific questions our research and development could have ran much smoother.


In terms of our presentation, I feel the whole group communicated our ideas well. We mainly focused on Boltanski’s presentation of death and how ” part of the work is… about the simple fascination of seeing somebody who is handsome and imagining their ashes.” Essentially, Boltanski creates archival feeling to the piece that is preserving his subjects memory despite their anonymity (as all of the images are appropriated from newspapers and other media baring no personal connection to Boltanski himself). As Rachael of my group suggested: large scale atrocities are most tragic when the victims are forgotten. This is something that Boltanski appears to combat indirectly through his work. The use of light that illuminated the photos, yet felt somewhat restrictive in terms of viewing the piece, aids in this interpretation. While masses are remembered collectively in tragedy, the individual is often forgotten.

We did have some technical difficulties as the PowerPoint a member of my group did prepare wasn’t compatible with the laptop we were using to present to the group. This is something we should have been prepared for. Despite this hiccup, by having the image as our sole presentation, I felt, allowed for a deeper connection to the audience that was viewing our presentation. In this way, they they were perhaps able to relate out opinions to the artwork. Perhaps there could have been more of a structure when we were presenting that would have been aided by a properly functioning PowerPoint presentation.

Working in a group was beneficial in allowing us to forge new relationships within the department despite the difficulties in organising times to work on our presentation. I found that by working in a larger group more interpretations of the artwork that I had not considered surfaced which is invaluable in terms of our collective  analysis.




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