Christian Boltanski

France (1944)
Festival Images Vevey


A key figure on the international art scene, Christian Boltanski deals with existential questions by mixing reality with fiction. Breaking away from his obsession with disappearance and death, his monumental interactive and immersive installation entitled Chance questions the universal topics of coincidence and fate. It comprises gigantic scaffolding with a long moving scroll printed with dozens of pictures of newborn babies’ faces taken from birth announcements in a Polish daily newspaper. Nothing sets these babies apart, yet each of them will experience a unique existence, influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Visitors are invited to alter destiny by using a display device to compose random portraits blending different parts of different people’s faces, from newborns to senior citizens. At the end of the installation, two giant online counters record actual real-time births and deaths worldwide, converting the life cycle into figures. Chance was inaugurated in 2011 in the French pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale and has been reinterpreted specifically for this edition of Festival Images Vevey.