Vanished Bodies and Eternal Presence, Monumenta 2010

If you find yourself in Paris sometime before February 21st, make sure to check out Monumenta 2010: Christian Boltanski’s Personnes at the Grand Palais.

In Personnes, Boltanski asserts that relics have become “vestiges of anonymous people, traces of strangers, with which it seems to be a question of communicating.” He cites Rolland Barthes, in the context of photography to support this question: ““A photo is literally an emanation from the referent. From a real body which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.” What “happens” therefore escapes any rational reduction: it is a matter of structuring the vanished body and eternal presence around a certain idea of the exhibition, a way of making manifest which opens the door to emotion.”

I stumbled upon this exhibit via Style Bubble. Here is what fashion blogger Susie Bubble had to say: “I’m simultaneously bemused and slightly saddened though that the next time I’m in the Grand Palais in March, all of this will be gone and in its place will be whatever runway setup Chanel decides upon for their A/W 10-11 show…”

Allan Chochinov at Core77 is often quoted for this statement: “Designers think they are in the artifact business, but they’re not; they’re in the consequence business.” (You can read more on responsible design in Chochinov’s Manifesto, found in the SA Reading section.) Although for me, obviously subjective in the SA context, Personnes reminds me of both artifact and consequence. It has me asking “What is the relationship between artifact and consequence in Boltanski’s work?” Seen through the lens of social, cultural and environmental responsibility, the exhibit is perhaps even more striking—more appalling (again, subjectively speaking). So I’m interested readers, what are your thoughts?

Image Source: Flickr via Style Bubble

Mary has a PhD in Sociology from University of Edinburgh, researching responsible fashion and transnational labour rights activism in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

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