Christian Boltanski | France

Etre a Nouveau / Being Anew, 2005

B/W Video on DVD
30 minutes, loop

Courtesy of the Artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York

Etre a Nouveau \ Being Anew is based on a random choice of a stream of images taken from photographs of 15 deceased people. The artist cut each photograph into 3 equal parts that are run randomly.

The result is 35,000 possible combinations of faces that serve as a merely partial solution to the physical mystery regarding the appearance of millions of people - past and future.

This is Boltansky's way of presenting his version of "memento mori", that so many literary and art works have dealt with over the years, reminding humankind that death awaits us in the end. The idea of "memento mori" recurs in various contexts also in Judaism, as for example in the custom to remind the participants in a funeral: "Know whence you came, wither you go, and before whom you will give justification and reckoning", and in Christianity, which is concerned a great deal with the issue of Judgment Day and Man's place in this world and the next.