“A RECORD OF AN INDIVIDUAL LIFE”
BOLTANSKI, Christian. Inventaire des Objets Ayant Appartenu a une Femme de Bois-Colombes. (Paris: Centre National d'Art Contemporain, 1974). Thin octavo, original full beige paper wrappers. $2200.
First edition of Boltanski’s influential photobook, “a record of an individual life,” with 295 black and white photographs.
Boltanski uses "photographs as a memorializing agent, to make a record of an individual life, as in his exhibition and artist's book Inventaire des Objets Ayant Appartenu a une Femme de Bois-Colombes" (Parr & Badger II, 136). The title translates to Inventory of Objects Which Belonged to a Woman of Bois-Colombes (a suburb of Paris), and it is one of a series of four books, for each of which he selected a person at random and then photographed all of their worldly goods. This is a "record of a life defined by personal possessions… a biography… Boltanski details the possessions of an anonymous life, and beyond the artistic its aim is essentially social, even sociopolitical…the result is impersonal and objective, and yet intensely moving. Boltanski is demonstrating the power of the archive and the catalogue, the survey that at some point becomes surveillance. In this laying out of a life for our contemplation, all the implications of control are made manifest, and with them the less benign aspects of the modern state" (Parr & Badger II, 155). Parr & Badger II, 154.