Miroslaw Balka - Die Traumdeutung 75,32m'
Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3
March 19 - May 25, 2014
Site-specific works by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. The title is a reference in German to Freud's key work 'The Interpretation pf Dreams' (1899) while the measurement in metres refers to the exact geographical height above mean sea level of The Freud Museum London.
For Balka the German title caries significant words and meanings from other languages: English 'Die' and 'Trauma'; Latin, 'Deu' which means 'God', and Albanian 'Tung', which means 'Bye'.
Outside the museum Balka installed 'Y-Chromosomal Adam' an imposing 8-metre high inflatable black tower that provided a dark foreboding that pervaded his exhibition. Inside the entrance hall he installed his video 'Nacht und Nebel' shot during a foggy night in a forest near his studio. Nacht-und-Nebel Aktion 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 Tarnheim 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?)
In the main exhibition space Balka installed his sculpture 'We Still Need'
comprising a careful arrangement of a series of plywood crates and a truncated trapezohedron, open on one side and the bottom . so that the
visitor could put their head into it. This is in part inspired by the enigmatic trapezohedron in Albrecht Dürer's famous engraving 'Melencolia 1" (1514), while it also has a relation with the Tarnheim.The number and volume of crates relates to SS officer Eberl's 1942 letter sent to the commisioner of the Jewish Quarter, Warsaw Ghetto, requesting materials for the camp in Treblinka. Sent on 20th 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 in concentration camps in 1942. In his civilian role SS Obersturmführer Imfried Eberl was an Austrian psychiatrist. On the landing of the museum staircase Balka installed an audio work - the sound of a lone man whistling the melody of the theme tune from the film 'The Great Escape' (1963).