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Monument (Odessa)

Christian Boltanski (French, b. 1944)

Monument (Odessa), 1989-2003

  • Gelatin silver prints, tin biscuit boxes, lights, and wire
  • Installation approximately: 80 x 72 in. (203.2 x 182.9 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Melva Bucksbaum Contemporary Art Fund, 2003-11a-kk
  • ¬©Courtesy of the Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

Not on view



Monument (Odessa)


Monument (Odessa)




  • What is the first word that comes to mind when you look at Boltanski's Monument (Odessa)?

  • What are the different components that make up the work? What different media does the artist use? How do they work together to create a coherent whole?

  • What do you see in the photographs? What do these images remind you of?

  • Does this piece evoke any specific sensation or emotion in you? What is the overall effect of the work?

  • Why do you think the artist chose to leave the wires hanging the way he did?

  • Would you consider Boltanski's work a sculpture? Why or why not? How does Boltanski's installation challenge your expectations of a traditional sculpture or work of art?


After giving students ample opportunity to examine this installation, lead them in a discussion of related topics and themes:

  • How is Boltanski's work similar to or different from other artworks you have seen?

  • How is it similar to or different from other Holocaust memorials you have seen?

  • Boltanski says, "My work is about the fact of dying, but it's not about the Holocaust itself." Can the work be interpreted in the context of the Holocaust if the artist himself downplays that association?

  • The children in the photos were Jewish students in pre-War France. If you did not know that, would it change the meaning or impact of the piece?

  • What is the purpose of memorializing the dead? For whom do we make memorials? For the dead? For the living?

  • Boltanski's work is about memory. What are your strongest personal memories? What keeps these memories alive in your mind? What objects or images evoke these memories for you?


  • Holocaust Memorials
  • Jewish Life in Europe before World War II
  • Contemporary Art
  • Installation Art