Each of the seven structures at Hangar has a name and a specific significance***, illustrating a thin conjunction between memory, emotion and perception: Sefiroth (linked with the creation and the defined structure of the Tree of Life), Melancholia (a self-referential tower, alluding to the contemplative and privileged status of those who were born under the sign of Saturn, predestined to have mood swings and strong artistic vocation), Ararat (a paradoxical symbol of destruction and deliverance), The Magnetic Field Lines (referring to the major schisms and traumatic divisions in the history of politics and religion – from the iconoclastic struggle, to the racial policy of the Nazi Germany), JH & WH (emphasizing the myth of creation – the initials, put together, compose the name of Yahweh, the God of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah), and The Tower of the Falling Pictures (a distopic scenario of the history of representation, in which the broken and empty frames do not stand for an iconoclastic point of view, but symbolize all the possible images that can be visible or invisible).
The Seven Heavenly Palaces trace the reference to a dialogical multiplicity of histories, in an anachronistic manner; it seems built with fragments of personal and collective memory haphazardly assembled. But its coherence is to be found in the versatility of Kiefer’s artistic research, in which religion, philosophy, literary symbolism and history are intermingled. Just like the intricate labyrinth described by Borges in The Garden of Forking Paths, “in which all men would lose their way”, in Kiefer’s art there is always a narrative trap intentionally left, that could lead to a cul-de-sac or could open the path to all the possible meanings.
* Sophie Fiennes, Over Your Cities Grass will Grow, France, 2010, official trailer.
** Daniel Arasse, Anselm Kiefer, Thames & Hudson, London, p. 306.
*** Anselm Kiefer,The Seven Heavenly Palaces, HangarBicocca, permanent and site-specific installation, curated by Lia Rumma, 2004 (presentation brochure).