Welcome to the London Architecture Diary, your essential guide to architecture exhibitions and events taking place across the city, brought to you by New London Architecture.
White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition by Anselm Kiefer featuring new, large-scale installation, sculpture and painting. Titled ‘Walhalla’, the exhibition refers to the mythical place in Norse mythology, a paradise for those slain in battle, as well as to the Walhalla neo-classical monument, built by Ludwig I King of Bavaria in 1842 to honour heroic figures in German history.
Throughout his career, Kiefer has interwoven themes of history, politics and landscape into his work, revisiting imagery and symbolism through different forms and media. His work conflates and connects themes, resonating with the idea of history as one continuous cycle. In the past, for example, Kiefer has employed the symbolism of Norse mythology alongside the forms of National Socialist architecture, and for this exhibition he uses this as a basis for dramatic new paintings and sculpture that deal simultaneously with notions of creation and destruction, life and death.
The exhibition focuses on the major new installation Walhalla in the central corridor space, from which the other works thematically depart. Featuring a long, narrow room lined with oxidised lead, rows of fold-up steel beds are set close together and draped with dark grey crumpled lead sheets and covers. At the far end of the room, a black and white photograph mounted on lead depicts a lone figure walking away into a bleak, wintery landscape.
The whole installation is dark, sombre and sparsely lit by a series of bare light bulbs, suggesting an institutional dormitory, military sleeping quarters or battlefield hospital. This sense of morbid claustrophobia is countered nonetheless by the offer of rest, of a break in the journey; a place perhaps of transformation.
Due to the layout of this exhibition, we cannot accommodate prams in the gallery at busy times.