KaddishChristian Boltanski

(Gina Kehayoff, 1998)

Kaddish is the Hebrew prayer for the souls of the dead and this book is a testimonial to personal and collective human memory. Originally created as four separate bodies of work (Materiality, Morality, Locality and Humanity), Kaddish is an archive of found photographs that form a provocative memorial to death and its proceeding anonymity.

Memory, documentation and archiving have been recurrent themes in Christian Boltanski’s work, and he has used the camera to explore them and the medium’s arbitrary relation to truth and its use as a repository to memory. Boltanski has created an encyclopedic ode to remembrance, juxtaposing images of innocent victims of genocide next to perpetrators of war and terror.

The tension between the common desire to remember and be remembered and our collective amnesia to human history is laid bare in Kaddish. This is a precious and superbly crafted photo book, that profoundly evokes the fragility of life and the value of memory.

“I began to work as an artist when I began to be an adult, when I understood that my childhood was finished, and was dead. I think we all have somebody who is dead inside of us. A dead child. I remember the little Christian that is dead inside me.” -Christian Boltanski

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