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London: Bałka

March 19, 2014 - May 25, 2014

Mirosław Bałka: DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 75,32m AMSL

exhibition viewing from 6pm and Mirosław Bałka and James Putnam in conversation: “DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 75,32m AMSL” from 7pm

Freud Museum

Curated by James Putnam

DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 75,32m AMSL, is an exhibition of new site-specific works by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. The exhibition title is a reference in German to Freud’s key work The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), while the measurement in metres refers to the exact geographical height above mean sea level of The Freud Museum London.

DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 75,32m AMSL will run concurrently with DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 25,31m AMSL, at White Cube Mason’s Yard.

These exhibitions will be the artist’s first shows in London since his critically acclaimed How It Is, at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in 2009.

For Balka, the German title carries significant words and meanings from other languages: English ‘Die’ and ‘Trauma’; Latin, ‘Deu’ which means ‘God’, and Albanian ‘Tung’, which means ‘Bye’.

Outside the Freud Museum, Balka will install an imposing inflatable 8-metre high black tower entitled Y-Chromosomal Adam which provides an aura of dark foreboding that pervades his exhibition within Freud’s house.

Inside the entrance hall there is a video Nacht und Nebel that was shot during a foggy night this January in a forest near the artist’s studio. Nacht-und-Ne¬bel-Ak¬ti¬on was a secret Nazi operation started in 1941. The name of this action was taken from Richard Wagner‘s opera Das Rheingold (1876) where the dwarf Alberich, who has renounced love for the pursuit of power, disappears by putting on the magic helmet Tarnhelm and intoning the sentence: Nacht und Nebel, niemand gleich / Siehst du mich, Bruder? (Night and fog, like to no one / Can you see me brother?)

The main exhibition space presents the sculptural installation We still need, which comprises a careful arrangement of plywood crates and a truncated trapezohedron, open on one side and the bottom, so that the visitor can put their head into it. This is inspired in part by the enigmatic trapezohedron in Albrecht Dürer’s famous engraving Melencolia 1 (1514), while it also has a relation with the Tarnhelm.

The number and volume of crates relates to SS officer Imfried Eberl’s 1942 letter sent to the commissioner of the Jewish Quarter, Warsaw Ghetto, requesting materials for the camp in Treblinka. Sent on 20 June 1942, the seemingly mundane request becomes grave in this context since, months later, three of Freud’s sisters died there.

Sigmund Freud moved to London from Vienna in 1938 to avoid Nazi persecution but four of his five sisters died concentration camps in 1942. In his civilian role Imfried Eberl was an Austrian psychiatrist.

The last work in the exhibition is the sound of a lone man whistling the melody of the theme tune from the film The Great Escape (1963).


March 19, 2014
May 25, 2014
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Freud Museum
20 Maresfield Gardens
London, NW3 5SX United Kingdom
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