Beating hearts for posterity

Art Slice

It shifts as one wanders about ­Christian Boltanski’s ‘Personnes’, his new project for Monumenta, the annual Parisian equivalent to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall commission.

The roaring, sonorous boom of white noise separates into deep, regular thuds, and above it the croak of frogs or the alarm calls of unseen jungle birds.

There are disco squelches and native drums. These sounds are all human heartbeats. Visitors can make their own contribution by having their heart rhythms recorded by white-coated technicians in booths off the main space. Boltanski, one of France’s leading artists, is compiling an archive of heartbeats that he intends to be housed, eventually, on a remote and inaccessible Japanese island. He has already collected over 15,000 individual recordings. One day, these beating hearts will all belong to the dead. If Boltanski’s art endures, one might also imagine that the visitors who make it to the island in the future have yet to be born.

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