Christian Boltanski’s work for the Biennale focused on the luck and fate of newborns, whose beginnings are subject entirely to chance. While the title translated in French has a positive connotation of luck and good fortune, the English interpretation conversely suggests hazard or risk, which make the works appropriately ambiguous.
He explores the pressing issue of population expansion in the diptych ‘Last News from Humans’; oversized digital counters enumerate daily births and deaths; the figures are tabulated every evening at midnight, with the number of births on average 200,000 higher than the number of deaths.
The interactive game exploring determinism versus free will in the lineage of familial resemblance, ‘Be New’ projected a jumbled grid of fragments from both infant and elderly faces; viewers were challenged to click at the exact moment when a face is displayed in its complete composition. To encourage global participation, Boltanski also created a website for the game, boltanski : chance. whereby winners were to be sent a surprise personally by the artist.
Text adapted from designboom
‘The Wheel of Fortune’ by Christian Boltanski at Venice Biennale 2011