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"Christian Boltanski: Les Abonnes du Telephone"
2002-03-27 until 2002-05-05
South London Gallery
UK United Kingdom
For his forthcoming solo show at the SLG, the internationally renowned French artist, Christian Boltanski is set to transform the space into an extaordinary library of some 3,000 telephone directories from all over the world. Visitors can browse through the directories, homing in on the familiar - perhaps a friend living in another country - or being drawn to the exotic, to countries they barely knew existed.
Whichever course they choose, it will inevitably be a personal one and this oscillation between the global and the individual, the international and the local is central to the work. These relationships are further developed in a specially commissioned sound piece in which the names of the 12,000 registered voters living within ten minutes' walk of the Gallery are read out from different points around the space.
Christian Boltanski's work over the past four decades has focused in different ways on the notion of individual identity, on the ways in which we strive to create and maintain it, and the degree to which it is lost in the midst of collective experience. Archiving, and our obsession with recording and classifying our own lives and those of others, is another recurrent theme.