Christian Boltanski’s No Man’s Land makes the cavernous space inside the Park Avenue Armory feel more like stoop sale than a drill hall.
Thousands of old shirts, pants and jackets cover the floor on massive sheets. Each article is splayed out, as if for the taking. Then, a massive pile of clothing stands 25-feet tall in the middle of the room. A five-story crane grab wads of clothing from the mountain, hoists them 50-feet into the air and drops them at random.
Along with the mechanical noises from the crane, the sound of human heartbeats pulsates through speakers.
To Boltanski, "the heartbeats are like a photo of somebody. Each heartbeat is different."
Visitors can get their own heartbeats recorded by docents dressed up in white lab coats as part of Boltanski's ongoing project, the Archives du Coeur.
In addition to the theme of individuality, the French artist also explores "chance, destiny and the finger of God."
Boltanski was recently selected to represent France in the 2011 Venice Biennale.
No Man's Land is a companion piece to Personnes, an installation at the Grand Palais in Paris which opened in January. The show runs until June 13.