"Vanitas", Christian Boltanski
8th art project Salzburg Walk of Modern Art - Würth Collection: Christian Boltanski, "Vanitas" (2009) in the Crypt of Salzburg Cathedral
In the choir crypt of the late Romanesque Salzburg Cathredral, the French artist Christian Boltanski has installed a shadow play entitled "Vanitas". It comprises two parts, one sculptural, the other acoustic. On one wall the artist has mounted twelve delicately slender figures cut from sheet metal illuminated by candles. In the flickering light they cast shadows onto the wall, and the apse is filled with the revolving projection of a shadowy angel of death. At the same time, the sound of the looped recording of an automatic speaking-clock echoes through the room. The artist's shadow play is a modern "Danse Macabre", with time passing audibly as one observes it. Through his artistic intervention, Christian Boltanski has transformed the historical space into a site of mystery, which unites the spirituality of his art with the sacred aura of the church.