Benesse Art Site Naoshima

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Unveiling of new artwork by Christian Boltanski from this summer, "La forêt des murmures"

On July 18th, 2016, the first day of the Setouchi Triennale summer season, Christian Boltanski's artwork, "La forêt des murmures" also opened to the public.

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Halfway up Mt. Danyama on Teshima island, 400 wind chimes are installed in a forest, tinkling in the breeze. On strips of transparent material hanging from each bell are the names of loved ones written by past visitors. The sound of the wind chimes summon up the mystery of the soul, paying homage to the memory of those individuals, expressing both the vitality and transience of human life. New visitors are invited to leave behind the name of a beloved one.

Christian Boltanski explores the themes of human life and death throughout his oeuvre. Since 2008, he has been working on a project to collect the sounds of people's heartbeats, as a tribute to their lives. Boltanski's "Les Archives du Cœur" opened in 2010 in Karatohama on Teshima island, and is a permanent collection of his recordings of the heartbeats of people around the world, open for visitors to come and listen to. His new work, "La forêt des murmures," was created as a complement to "Les Archives du Cœur," offering a new place of pilgrimage on Teshima island. According to the artist's wishes, the natural surroundings in which the new project is set has hardly been altered.

On July 2nd, 2016, before the opening of the artwork, gatherings were organized for local residents to participate in the project by writing the names of their loved ones.

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Islanders writing the names of beloved ones. Events were held in each of the three districts on Teshima: Ieura, Karato, and Kou (above: gathering in the Karato district)

Each person was asked to choose one name to write down. The name of a beloved person. Some people chose their child, some couples wrote each other's names, and others wrote the name of somebody outside their family circle whom they treasure. The process involves a very personal expression of the feeling of one person towards another. The names may be of people still living, or of loved ones passed. For the artist, "the soul of a person does not change whether this person is alive or dead." While people's lives are short, their souls are eternal. The wind chimes in the forest ring to celebrate these souls.

Visitors are also invited to leave behind the name of a beloved one when visiting the work. Your loved one's names will then be inscribed on a strip in your handwriting at a later date, becoming part of the art installation, and starting to sway in the breeze blowing through the forest.

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Registration card handed out to participating visitors

On July 18th, 2016, the opening day, an artist talk was also held on Teshima by Christian Boltanski, visiting Japan for the occasion. He spoke about the concept of his artwork, the relationship between his art and nature, the central importance of "pilgrimage," and how his fundamental beliefs influence the process of his artistic expression. The full text of his lecture will soon be released on our website, stay tuned!

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