The Freud Museum

Exhibition Archive

19 March 2014 - 25 May 2014

Curated by James Putnam

Miroslaw Balka: DIE TRAUMDEUTUNG 75,32m AMSL

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).


Related Resources

The exhibition is the latest in the critically acclaimed ongoing series of Freud Museum London exhibitions curated by James Putnam that have included projects by Sophie Calle, Mat Collishaw, Sarah Lucas, Ellen Gallagher, Tim Noble & Sue Webster and Oliver Clegg.

The exhibition is kindly supported by White Cube and The Polish Cultural Institute.

Miroslaw Balka was born in 1958 in Otwock, Poland where he continues to work. Solo exhibitions include ‘Fragment’, National Centre For Contemporary Art, Moscow; ‘Nachtgesichten’, WRO Art Center, Wroclaw (2013); Akademie Der Kunste, Berlin and CCA Warsaw; ‘Between Honey & Ashes’, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2011); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2010); Modern Art Oxford, Oxford and Tate Modern, London (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Rijeka and Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2007); K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Strasbourg (2004); Kroller - Muller Museum, Otterlo (2001); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (2002) and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuelle Kunst (SMAK), Gent (2001). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including ‘Sculpture in the Close’, Jesus College, Cambridge; ‘Art Basel Unlimited 2013’, Basel; ‘Glasstress: White Light/White Heat’ and ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’ at the 55th Venice Biennale, Palazzo Cavalli, Venice (2013); ‘Building Memory’ CCA, Tel Aviv, HMKV, Dortmund and Museum Stzuki, Lodz (2010); SITE Santa Fe 6th Biennale, New Mexico (2006); Sydney Biennale (2006); Venice Biennale (2005, 1993 and 1990) and Documenta IX (1992).


TimeOut - Miroslaw Balka: Die Traumdeutung 75,32m AMSL

Guardian - Bałka: Die Traumdeutung 75,32m AMSL and 25,31m AMSL – review

Arts Desk - Miroslaw Balka, White Cube/ Freud Museum

Londonist - Unsettling Art By Miroslaw Balka

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