The Christian Boltanski in Chile project was led by Chilean curator, Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel, from BBO Cultural Developments, and supported by Fundación Mar Adentro. The project was carried out between 2014 and 2015 and consisted of the preparation, installation, and presentation of the work of prominent French artist, Christian Boltanski. Boltanski’s three-tiered exposition consisted of an homage exhibit in Santiago’s National Museum of Fine Arts, a new installation located in the Atacama, and a second showcasing of the latter exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Christian Boltanski (France, 1944) is an internationally renowned French artist whose installations have been presented in major museums around the world. His work is characterized by its capacity to question traumatic historical events from the past century, while simultaneously creating a profound, personal, and emotional experience for spectators:

El artista francés Christian Boltanski junto a una de sus obras

French artists Christian Boltanski next to his work Chance presented in the 54th Venice Biennale

“What I try to do through my work is pose questions and discuss philosophical issues through visual imagery rather than through stories put into words. I’m referring to very simple things that are common to us all. I’m not talking about complicated things. I try to get people to forget that my pieces are art to make them think that they are life itself.”  

Given his extraordinary ability to visually impact and provoke reflection from his audience, Fundación Mar Adentro, formed an alliance with BBO Cultural Developments, led by Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel and her team of curatorial assistants, Amparo Irarrázaval and Maya Errázuriz, to initiate the creation of the project, beginning in May 2014. The project consisted of three fundamental branches:

  • An exhibition presented as an homage to Christian Boltanski’s work in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile
  • An artistic intervention in the Atacama Desert, Chile
  • A presentation of the artistic intervention in the Atacama in the 56th Venice Biennale art festival.
Animitas, Christian Boltanski

Animitas, Christian Boltanski

Almas was presented in homage to his work in the eight exhibition rooms in Santiago’s National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as in its central hall. In line with the rest of his work, Almas challenges its audience to contemplate their individual role in society. The Christian Boltanski project also showcased one of his newest works in the Atacama Desert, which like some of his other installations found in the most remote parts of the world, is a permanent monument dedicated to ‘humanity’. This hand-picked site, chosen by him and his curator, Beatriz Bustos O. and her team, is based in the Atacameñan community of Talabre, located at the foot of the Lascar Volcano in San Pedro de Atacama. It is there that the artist installed Animitas, a series of small bells arranged to form a stellar map. The installation was live-streamed to the Santiago National Museum of Fine Arts.

In May of 2015 Animitas was presented at the 56th Venice Biennale festival, one of the most important art events in the world, which allowed for an international display of Chile’s natural heritage, specifically of the Atacama Desert and its remote community of Talabre.

The entirety of the project was captured in “Animitas, Christian Boltanski”, a book published by Fundación Mar Adentro and Hueders Publishing House. It is one of the few Boltanski books available in Spanish.

Christian Boltanski in Chile was admitted under the Chilean Law of Cultural Donations, organized by BBO Cultural Developments, presented by Fundación Mar Adentro and the Chilean National Council of Culture and Arts, an agency which promotes culture and education as a means to espouse artistic and intellectual freedom and self-discovery.

The following collaborators also contributed to the realization of this project: Instituto Francés de Chile, Entel (who made Animitas live stream possible), Epson, Knauf, DHL, Hoteles Club Presidente, Fundación Debuenafé, Papiro, and Alsacia Express; with the support of the San Pedro Municipality, Fundación de Cultura y Turismo de San Pedro de Atacama, and Fundación Parque Puribeter.

Producers in France: Eva Albarrán & Co.

Museographic installation: Amercanda



 Photografy: Jorge Brantmayer A women of the Talabre community sitting alongside Boltanski's Animitas

The renowned French artist, CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI, presented a great exhibition in Chile, called ALMAS at the MNBA until January 2015. It included exclusively works of the author, besides an artistic intervention which will be carried out in the desert of Atacama.

This initiative undertaken with the support of our foundation, the collaboration of BBO, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the CNCA, brings for the first time to Chile one of the most relevant international contemporary artists, whose installations have been exhibited in major museums and biennials in the world.

The bond of Christian Boltanski with Chile is relevant, since he is a benchmark for many Chilean artists, mainly because his work deals with the issues of identity and memory.

The work of this artist is linked to art and life, considering as its main axis human transcendence. Boltanski thinks every human being is unique, marked by finitude in a constant state of fragility. This contradiction is what he investigates in his artistic work and in this process of creating a work he seeks to preserve life, knowing that it is an act marked by impossibility. Archives and collective memory are issues present in his artistic work.

Basing his work in the gesture of retaining the human being by keeping his fingerprint, the artist presents in one of the rooms the installation “Archives of the heart” which invites the spectator to become part of the work and record his heartbeats in a medical office and later on send these records to the island of Teshima in Japan, where the library of heartbeats is located.

The exhibition at the MNBA was installed in the entrance hall and 8 rooms of the museum, where one could enjoy a tour through his well-known and outstanding installations, exclusively redesigned by the artist for this exhibition. In the central hall there was an installation of large format based on the accumulation of clothing, while in the rooms, the spectator could see his already famous “Monuments” and projections in video and sound installations, among other works.

The setting up which the artist unprecedentedly did in San Pedro de Atacama, involved the installation of approximately 400 Japanese bells fixed to supports, installed in the desert according to a map of the stars that recalls the moment of his birth and is part of his three “Monuments for humanity”, in addition to the above mentioned heartbeats archive in Teshima, Japan, and that in Tasmania, Australia, where there is an audiovisual record of what goes on 24 hours a day in his studio in Paris.

The spectator can become a part of an experience of contemporary art which invites him to identify himself with the artist’s work, from his own emotional and cognitive reality. The exhibition had also an educational room, guided tours, a cinema series and discussion rounds with the artist.

This exhibition was open to the public from October 31, 2014 until January 4, 2015 on the first floor of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

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