PDF (English)

Słowa kluczowe


Jak cytować

Kamczycki, A. (2013). YIZKOR, THE JEWISH WAY OF MEMORY. THE CASE OF CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI’S ART. Studia Europaea Gnesnensia, (7), 309–326. Pobrano z https://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/seg/article/view/2509


Christian Boltanski’s art in principle refers to memory as an important eternal imperative in the Jewish culture, and to the way and kind of representation, that is, artistic language. However, he does not do it by a simple allusion to Shoah but by reference to ‘indexicality’ of the essence of memory (F. Ankersmith) – where memory is juxtaposed with the history referentiality. His artistic work responds to a certain kind of ‘fears’ (J.E. Young, E. Van Alphen, A. Appelfeld, A. Huyssen, S. Friedman) of the possibility of art turning into a soulless attempt of embalming memory, with its influence becoming the opposite of the originally intended one, that is, contributing to forgetting (an anti-monument).

Unlike historical archiving (of history as such), art is one of the most significant forms of preserving memory, thanks to artistic activity’s permanent capability of evoking memory – a social, cultural and political perpetual motion serving memory as such.

Christian Boltanski’s works, especially the photographic medium that he uses most often, refer to old formulas of memory and commemoration used by Jews called Yizkor, which literally means, remember, recollect.

Such conceptualization of a work, that is, formalization or even celebration of the impermanence and changeability of this medium opposes the belief in permanence of a material object, which paradoxically contributes to the death of its implied idea, that is, memory. However, by negating the form, Boltanski does not negate memory but only the false traditional belief in its stability and permanence.

Thus, his art is both a suggestive play with history as well as its criticism at the same time. He shows us presence of what is absent by constantly evoking only memory.



PDF (English)


Alphen E. van, Caught by History. Holocaust Effects in Contemporary Art, Literature, and Theory, Stanford 1997, p. 101–102.

Amishai-Maisels Z., Art Confronts the Holocaust, [in:] Bohm-Duchen M., (ed.), After Auschwitz: Responses to the Holocaust in Contemporary Art, London 1995, p. 73.

Ankersmit F., Historia i Postmodernizm, [in:] Nycz R., (ed.), Postmodernizm. Antologia przekładów, Kraków 1997, p. 161.

Ankersmit F., Pamiętając Holocaust: żałoba i melancholia, [in:] Domańska E., (ed.), Pamięć, etyka i historia. Angloamerykańska teoria historiografii lat dziewięćdziesiątych, Poznań 2002.

Arendt H., (ed.), Illuminations, London 1968, p. 223.

Assmann J., Das kulturelle Gedächtnis. Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen, München, 2005. Polish version: (transl. by Kryczyńska-Pham A.,), Pamięć kulturowa. Pismo, zapamiętywanie i polityczna tożsamość w cywilizacjach starożytnych, Warszawa 2008.

Barthes R., La chambre claire: note sur la photographie, Paris 1980 (Światło obrazu. Uwagi o fotografii. Warszawa 1996).

Bohm-Duchen M., The Uses and Abuses of Photography in Holocaust-Related Art, [in:] Hornstein Sh., Jacobowitz F., (ed.), Image, p. 220–234.

Boltanski Ch., Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski) (14. 09 — 11.11. 2001), curator: Milada Ślizińska, text from the Internet, www.csw.art.pl, p. 2 (December 2005).

Cohen R.d, Jewish Icons. Art. and Society in Modern Europe, Berkeley–Los Angeles 1998, p. 120–121.

Domańska E., Historia, o jeden świat za daleko, Poznań 1997, p. 19.

Friedlander S., Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the “Final Solution”, Massachusetts–London 1992, p. 91.

Gadamer H.-G., Truth and Method, New York 1975, p. 131

Garber-Talmon Y., The Concept of Time in Primitive Myth, Iyyun II, 1951, p. 57.

Grenier C. , D. Mendelsohn, Christian Boltanski, Flammarion Contemporary, Paris 2010

Grenier C., The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski, London 1997.

Gruna-Sulisz M., Świątynia jerozolimska jako kosmogoniczne centrum świata, [in:] P. Paszkiewicz, T. Zadrożny (ed.), Jerozolima w kulturze europejskiej, Warszawa 1997, p. 366.

Hornstein Sh., Jacobowitz F., (ed.), Image and Rememberance. Representation and the Holocaust, Bloomington–Indianapolis 2003.

Huyssen A., The Monument in Post-Modern Age, [in:] J.E. Young (ed.), The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History, New York 1994, p. 11.

Laub D., An Event Without a Witness: Thruth, Testimony, and Survival, [in:] Felman S., Laub D., (ed.), Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, New York–London 1992, p. 78.

Laub D., Bearing Witness, or Vicissitudes of Listening, [in:] Sh. Felman and D. Laub (ed.) as above p. 57–74.

Piotrowski P., Artysta w Auschwitz. O (nie)banalności sztuki, [in:] P. Czapliński, E. Domańska (ed.), Zagłada. Współczesne problemy rozumienia i przedstawiania, Poznań 2009, p. 291–307.

Saryusz-Wolska M., (ed.), Pamięć zbiorowa i kulturowa. Współczesna perspektywa niemiecka, Kraków 2009.

Stern S., Time and Proces in Ancient Judaism, Oxford 2007.

Unterman A., Encyklopedia tradycji i legend żydowskich, Warszawa 1994, p. 119.

Young J. E., The Arts of Jewish Memory in Postmodern Age, [in:] B. Cheyette, L. Marcus (ed.), Modernity, Culture and the Jew, Cambridge 1998, p. 211.

Young J.E., At Memory’s Edge. After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture, New Haven–London 2000;

Young J.E., The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning, New Haven–London 1993 (especially Introduction), p. 1–16.