BOAZ (2018-2021) – novel (128p, ed. Sator), film (25 min), sculptures, photographs, sound work, video, drawings, performance.
THE NOVEL : Since his birth and for reasons that no one can explain, Boaz has been known as legend by the community in which he lives. Aged six, and having just lost his parents, Boaz is welcomed into the home of Amos, a neighbourhood shopkeeper, and that explains the unique bond linking the two of them. But it is above all Amos’ son, Malachie, who develops the most intense ties to Boaz, becoming the mystic to his legend. Deborah, their sister, bears witness to this devotion. Between the rhythm of everyday life in Paris and long summers on the island of Procida, time goes by, until Amos allows his three children, now twenty years old, to go on the island on their own and fulfil their destinies.
THE film : With a small video camera that never leaves his side, Boaz films his daily life, and in particular Malachie, his adoptive brother from whom he is inseparable. For the summer of their twentieth year, the brothers decide to make a film on the island where they have spent all of their holidays. The idea is Malachie’s : by making the film, he hopes to dispel the mystery that surrounds Boaz, and at last find the words to say why he admires his brother so much. But Amos, the boys’ father, cancels the trip, and it is up to Boaz to convince Malachie to make the film regardless.
The film is made up of documents produced by the characters themselves : images filmed by Boaz on his small video camera and photographs taken by Amos. At three points throughout the film, we hear recordings of Deborah’s voice from twenty years later as she is questioned by an unknown authority figure, and we come to see the images in a new light.
Boaz, Galerie Sator (Komunuma, Romainville) du 22 mai au 19 juin 2021
Boaz, Romain Kronenberg
Words left unsaid are lost.
Boaz is above all the story of a story. A story discovered by chance in the souvenir shops of the small island of Procida, off the coast of Naples, the story of a forgotten voice on an old recorder that was surprisingly acquired. On an abandoned tape, the quiet but significant voice of a child tells the story of a young orphan, loved by all, whose mere presence prompts signs and acts of devotion from those around him. This story is the story of Boaz and his adoptive family : his brother Malachie, his sister Deborah, and their father Amos.
Romain Kronenberg began to develop this complex project in spring 2017, when he first came across the tape-recorder. A project that centres on the question of the sacred, which is omnipresent in Boaz’s opportunely rediscovered story, first and foremost in the pure but ambiguous relationship gathering the two inseparable brothers. For one is the Prophet, and the other one the Mystic. The sacred appears gently in the life of the young boy, Boaz, who we never see but who is unanimously admired. He is invisible, but alive. If Boaz is the Legend, Malachie, the Mystic, is the reflection of the collective fascination that coalesces around the orphan and the young man he becomes, a fascination that intensifies with the passing of time. Boaz will eventually become the willing martyr of this quest, the collateral damage of a piety that proves too great. This simple tragedy unfolds serenely, as all of its actors know full well what is to come, for the Legend cannot live.
The exhibition brings together a series of works, films, objects and documents that retrace Kronenberg’s exploration, each of which relates to the central novel that structures the whole. Working outwards from a methodology developed for his 2019 exhibition, Tout est vrai, Kronenberg unfolds this new proposition around a narrative backbone that shapes the works and images that are created. The result, Boaz, is a dense project in which form and narrative are inseparable and where it is impossible to determine which one precedes the other. The exhibition sets up a mise-en-abîme of the original story to explore the process of mythmaking. This fragmented hagiography has its own discreet relics : crosses traced on walls as signs of devotion, dolls as believers inspiring unique emotions, as well as family photographs, icons in Prussian blue, and sacred words that swarm across the walls. Boaz, film is the film of a film : it documents the creation of Boaz, their film by the two young men by linking it to the story of a mysterious investigator who, twenty years on, is still looking to explain that which cannot be explained.
Boaz is constructed as a contemporary myth that draws on Mircea Eliade’s research into the rituals and beliefs as well as the Melanesian Cargo cult. The sacred aura that surrounds this project is neither excessive nor surprising, but rather a modest, everyday form of sacrality : mystic, yet without mystery. It is the destiny of those who bear the weight of a society that lacks guiding lights and that longs for transcendence.
Credits : with Yannis Amouroux, Audrey Bonnet, Mathieu Amalric & Zéphir Moreels. Editing Romain Kronenberg, dop Julia Mingo, original soundtrack Romain Kronenberg, produced by Delphine Schmit (Tripode Productions). With the support of Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée.
Le projet Boaz a été sélectionné par la commission mécénat de la Fondation des artistes, avec le soutien de la direction régionale des affaires culturelles d’Ile-de-France (Ministère de la culture).
Spring 2021, Galerie Sator – Romainville
Winter 2022, Kunsthalle, centre d’art contemporain de Mulhouse