Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski, El Caso, 1988, Installation view at the K21, photo: Achim Kukulies, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

El Caso, 1988

Memory, forgetting, and death are central themes for Christian Boltanski. He seeks to erect a memorial to the anonymous dead, to those who have vanished. To this end, he exploits the form of the archive – the place where history is transmitted.

The Installation El Caso (The Criminal Case) in K21 is the title of a Spanish tabloid newspaper which satisfies its public’s craving for sensation with detailed descriptions of crime. It is the source for these photographs of women, men, and children – images which display victims and perpetrators without distinction. The crime scene photographs are stored in metal boxes, while the linen sheets on the shelves are reminiscent of a morgue or of forensic medicine.