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HAPPENINGText: Mami Goda

Hotel de inmigrantes was built in the early 20th century to receive newly arrived immigrants to Buenos Aires for five days. Along the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires, behind the actual Immigration Office, this nearly abandoned ruin stands with its unique presence.

Christian Boltanski Migrantes Exhibition

At the time, thousands of immigrants had their documents registered, stayed overnight, received medical checks, and looked for jobs all day long here. The long corridor that traverses in the middle and divides the building in two parts had been filled with many lines of immigrants busy with various procedures.


Currently, Christian Boltanski’s installation “Migrantes” is held on the 3rd floor of this building as the main spot of “Proyecto Boltansiki” Boltanski’s installation set up in four different locations in Buenos Aires, organized by University of Tres de Febrero.


The installation was conceived exclusively for this immigration hotel. When Boltanski visited this place for the first time, he discovered many discarded dusty papers on the floor. These papers were the dead bodies of the immigrants’ identities. In this place, coexisting is the future of the immigrants who dreamed about their new life in the new land, and the past, which each of them was forced to bid adieu. Boltanski revived the specter of the immigrants through his art.


In the endless misty corridor faintly illuminated by small light bulbs hanging from the high ceiling, the visitors walk while listening to the voice of more than 500 immigrants. They announce in their native language, their name, age, occupation, and date of arrival. It is the voice of the ghosts of millions of immigrants committed to shared dreams and loneliness.


In the room, there are coats hanging in the dark, a metallic bed lined and illuminated by a fluorescent light and covered with plastic sheeting, and wooden chairs with coats slung over the back of each of them. Memories of each immigrant, and the entire group of immigrants, are evoked in each element of the installation.


The “project Boltanski” also offers different installations in three other locations: the “Flying Book” shows 500 books at the Ancient National Library where Jorge Louis Borges had been director, “Archivos del corazon” collects the coronary tone of visitors in Tecnopolis and “Obras” exhibits his selected works in the University of Tres de Febrero. All the exhibitions will be held until December 16.

Christian Boltanski’s Migrantes Exhibition
Date: October 12th – December 16th, 2012
Open: 11:00 – 20:00 (Saturday from 15:30)
Closed on Monday
Place: Museo de Inmigrantes
Address: Av. Antártida, Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 11 4317 0285

Text: Mami Goda
Photos: Mami Goda

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