Salzburg Art Project 2009
by Christian Boltanski
Würth Collection, Inv. 15613
Assuming particular importance within the programme of sculpture projects initiated by
the Salzburg Foundation, the Eighth Salzburg Art Project is inviting visitors to an
historical site, which had previously lain inaccessible prior to the current restoration
work - undertaken especially for this event. In the choir crypt of the late Romanesque
Salzburg Cathedral, the French artist Christian Boltanski is staging a shadow play
entitled "Vanitas" which perfectly matches this unique setting. Here Boltanski has
successfully forged a vision of ephemerality, entirely consistent with the ambience of
the location: Through his artistic intervention, Christian Boltanski has transformed
this historical space into a site of mystery, which unites the spirituality of his art with the
sacred churchly aura.
Christian Boltanki´s installation "Vanitas" comprises two parts, one sculptural, the
other acoustic. On one wall the artist has mounted twelve delicately slender,
puppet-like figures cut from sheet metal, which are illuminated by candles. In the
flickering light they cast shadows onto the wall, and the apse is filled with the revolving
projection of the shadowy angel of death. At the same time, the sound of a looped
recording of the automatic speaking-clock echoes through the room. The artist´s
shadow play is a modern "Danse Macabre", with time passing audibly as one observes
it: "I want time to be heard and sensed", states Christian Boltanski in explanation of his
work. "People are capable of many things, but they cannot turn back the flow of time.
God is the Lord of time."
Built by Archbishop Konrad III (1181 - 1200), the choir crypt was filled in the after the fire of
1598 and the subsequent demolition of the Late Romanesque cathedral. It was
uncovered during the Cathedral excavations undertaken from 1956 - 1958, but not until
the launch of the Salzburg Art Project featuring Christian Boltanski´s installation, has
the crypt now been transformed into a public space and opened to visitors.
Christian Boltanski (*1944) lives and works in Malakoff, on the outskirt of Paris. He
has been represented at the documenta in Kassel three times, and in 2006 garnered
the prestigious Praemium Imperiale arts award for sculpture.
The restoration of the crypt and the presentation of the art project are the result of a
joint initiative by the Cathedral custos Balthasar Sieberer and the Salzburg
Foundation. The art project was funded by the Salzburg Foundation, and the crypt´s
restoration was facilitated by the Archiepiscopal Salzburg Cathedral Fund with the
support of the Propter Homines Foundation in Lichtenstein, the Federal Office for the
Protection of Monuments, the Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, the
Federal State of Salzburg, and the City of Salzburg.
This artwork is owned by the Würth Group
and was acquired in 2013.
It has been provided to the public and the City of Salzburg on loan.
In cooperation with the Salzburg Foundation 2013