Somebody and Nobody

No Man’s Land,” is an installation by Christian Boltanski which open this Friday at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan. The work was titled “Personnes” when it was staged at the Grand Palais in Paris at the beginning of the year.

Personnes,” the artist says, “is a very strange word because it means, at the same time, somebody and nobody…The idea was to make something about the finger of God and about chance.”

From “Exploring Mortality With Clothes and a Claw,” Dorothy Spears, New York Times, May 9, 2010):

“Every few minutes, in an act meant to resonate with the arbitrariness of death and survival, the crane’s giant claw will pluck a random assortment of shirts, pants and dresses from the mound then release them to flap back down haphazardly. Visitors can watch the action — set to a ceaseless, reverberating soundtrack of thousands of human heartbeats — from ground level, standing amid dozens of 15-by-23-foot plots of discarded jackets that extend in all directions from the mound and that may evoke refugee or death camps. Behind the visitors, a 66-foot-long, 12-foot-high wall made from 3,000 stacked cookie tins will cut off views of the exit.”

Christian Boltanski:

“We are all so complicated, and then we die. We are a subject one day, with our vanities, our loves, our worries, and then one day, abruptly, we become nothing but an object, an absolutely disgusting pile of shit. We pass very quickly from one stage to the next. It's very bizarre. It will happen to all of us, and fairly soon too. We become an object you can handle like a stone, but a stone that was someone.”