The municipality of Grancey-le-Château is pursuing an ambitious project to illuminate the city's heritage. This is why the patrons decided to commission the artist Christian Boltanski to enliven the tour of the ramparts of the Tourelle des Gardes, as far as the Chapelle de Vitteaux. Along this route, a shadow theatre unfolds. Here, a witch on her broom, the profile of a harlequin, there, a donkey, a cat's head, or even a skull. In the old chapel, at the end of the route, a souvenir photograph appears, in the image of a contemporary stained glass window and, through a window, the passer-by can perceive a macabre dance. Traditional urban lighting accompanies these ghosts that slide along the walls of houses. Remarkably, this trail condenses a significant number of the artist's previous creations.
Along the route from the ramparts to the chapel, a shadow theatre unfolds: here a witch on her broomstick, the profile of a harlequin, there a donkey, a cat's head, or else a death's-head. In the former chapel, at the end of the route, a commemorative photograph appears looking like a contemporary stained-glass window, and through a cellar window passers-by can glimpse a dance of death. Traditional urban lighting goes along with these phantoms that glide along the walls of the houses. A remarkable fact is that this way condenses a very large number of the artist's previous creations. The residents of the commune have given the finished work an emotional and enthusiastic welcome.
The mediator suggested bringing in Christian Boltanski with whom he has collaborated on many projects since the 1970s. For thirty years of so the artist's work has questioned memory and recollection in complex installations in which objects and photographs are mingled (Photo-souvenirs, Compositions japonaises, Compositions grotesques), and in a mode that is simultaneously caustic and humanist. At the frontiers between the autobiographical and anonymity, life and death, the wondrous and artifice, each of the series proceeds from an elementary mise en scène. Inspired by the traditional device of silhouettes, shadow theatre made its appearance in Boltanski's work as early as 1984. The shadow and its projection associated with the theme of puppets bring to mind many evocations derived from all cultures and mythologies – the Golem, the cabbala, the story of the origins of painting among the Greeks based on the outlining of the contours of a shadow, the dance of death in mediaeval mysteries... The artist sets up his puppet theatre in accordance with new configurations based on the location. Cardboard figures in conjunction with a projector constitute the mechanism. In 1995, the theme of Angels was the subject matter of a shadow theatre display on the dome of the Church of San Domingos de Bonoval in Santiago de Compostela. The dimension of religion also runs through the artist's work, yet in a desanctified mode. Moreover, the Vitteaux commission highlights the idea of the way which for the artist is central to what he does; his works are invitations to the viewer to walk around, and this has been the case more particularly from 1986 on.