Published on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition at l’Eglise Saint-Martin de Méjan d’Arles in 1989, Archives reproduces 100 black-and-white photographs that were clipped during 1972 from a weekly periodical specializing in crime. A brief introductory text explaining the project in French precedes the photographs. Each of the ensuing pages presents two to four portrait photos, and the images of the criminals and the victims are unlabeled and intermingled so that the viewer is incapable of telling which is which. The idea that it is impossible to distinguish the innocent from the guilty and the good from the bad is a theme that has recurred in a number of books by Boltanski, including Sans-Souci (1991) and Menschlich (1994). Archives was the first of his books to explore this theme.
Archives features a softcover sewn binding. The covers of cream-colored cardstock present the title in red and the artist’s name and publisher in black. The photographs inside are printed by offset lithography on cream-colored laid paper. Archives was printed at l’Imprimerie des Presses Universitaires de France in Vendôme, France. This copy is one of the first edition.
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