christian boltanski at trag

Christian Boltanski
France 1944


Portikus, Frankfurt am Main and Verlag Walther König, Köln, 1991

 “I made a book four or five years ago called San-Souci. It’s a photo album which I bought at a flea market in Berlin. Some of these nice-looking people became Nazis. We see Christmas trees, music, Babies: they were just like us. If the monster had been different from us, it would have been easier to deal with. But it was us. I did this book when I was in America, just after the Gulf War. I remember watching television and seeing the pilots returning from the Middle East; they were so young and sweet, kissing their girlfriends and babies, yet only a day before they had been killing women and children. It’s a book with no text, but if you ‘read’ it, it leaves you with a question. Perhaps this is a question about whether one is guilty or not guilty. About being a victim or a criminal – or both”. (from ‘Christian Boltanski’, part of the Phaidon Contemporary Artists series)

Boltanski assembled portraits of unrelated individuals and families to reconstruct this artist’s book. In the form of a traditional family album San-Souci is a haunting meditation on ordinary people caught up in the Nazi era. Presented in the format of a 1930/40s family photo album with 56 b&w photos. Published on the occasion of an exhibition. 16pp, 22.0 x 29.0 cm, hardcover. Edition of 2000.
Bury, S 1995, Artists’ Books The Book as a Work of Art. 1963-1995, Scolar Press, Aldershot. p. 174.
Flay, J (ed) 1992, Christian Boltanski : Catalogue, Books, Printed Matter, Ephemera 1966-1991, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln & Portikus, Frankfurt am Main. pp. 202-3, no. 77.
Wey, D and Weitman, W 2006, Eye on Europe : prints, books, and multiples / 1960 to now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. p.  98.



Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, Cologne 2002

We buy a ‘scratch-it’ in the hope of gaining a reward. The only ‘reward’ we receive in removing the silver surface on the pages of Boltanski’s Scratch is the loss of hope. Confronting images are revealed like suppressed memories. 5 pages each coated both sides with a silver removable surface, interleaved with tissue. 15.0 x 22.0 cm.