It's not an archive: Christian boltanski's les archives de C. B., 1965-1988

Kate Palmer Albers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In 1988, French artist Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) created Les Archives de C. B. 1965-1988, a monumental collection of over 2,000 photographs, letters, and other personal and professional documents, displayed in a way that simultaneously invites and refuses interest. In assembling these documents of his life, accumulated over the course of more than two decades into a personal archive made semipublic, Boltanski, I argue, questions the fundamental ability of such recordsphotographic or otherwiseto reveal a story of the past. From personal snapshots to professional photographic documentation of his artwork, photographs play a crucial role in his skepticism of biographical and historical reconstruction. Boltanski's project anticipates our contemporary fascination and obsession with the total archive and illustrates the folly of that enterprise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-266
Number of pages18
JournalVisual Resources
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Archives
  • Biography
  • Boltanski
  • Christian (b. 1944)
  • Collecting
  • Photography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Museology


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