Monday, March 17, 2008

Anslem Kiefer's I Sette Palazzi Celesti (The Seven Heavenly Palaces)

I Sette Palazzi Celesti (The Seven Heavenly Palaces) is a massive permanent sculpture by Anslem Kiefer in the Hangar Bicocca, a former factory re purposed for large-scale installations in Milan, Italy.

If someone were to say that contemporary art is rubbish, and I was concerned with converting them to thinking otherwise, Kiefer would be the artist toward whose work I would point them. It is easy to be impressed by art of this scale, enourmous even for him, but in Keifer you find a deep Earth-sadness in him, something you cannot shake after witnessing it.

Here it is described by the Hangar website:

The Hangar Bicocca opened its doors to the public for the first time in September 2004, presenting the monumental work "The Seven Heavenly Palaces" that Anselm Kiefer created especially for the space, choosing to occupy the entire length of the largest aisle inside the central volume of the Hangar Bicocca.

Alluding to the Hebrew mysticism of the Kabbalah, the Book of Life, the artist created seven monumental towers out of reinforced concrete and lead symbolising the mystical experience of ascension through the seven levels of spirituality.

Emblems of the human condition, therefore, Kiefer's towers are real, inhabitable architectures, even if dangerously unfit for use, destroyed by time and the neglect of mankind, forgotten by history. The artist constructed the work by adopting the "universal section" of the container used for freight, symbol of the globalisation of the modern urban landscape, as a modular unit.

"The Seven Heavenly Palaces", a unique work of its kind for the materials used and for its monumental size, was purchased in 2005 becoming a permanent installation.

There is a photo inside of Kiefer joyously riding a bike around this mass of modern ruins, looking rather delighted. I hope that someone has a camera rolling when one of those teetering monsters collapses and takes out the rest of the towers with them. Having not visited the site, I can only venture the sense of unease one would have in that room, the fear that any jarring movement would bring all of this crashing to the floor. From this photo, I get the impression that there are forgotten bodies turning to dust on floors of those towers, or worse, someone peering back out from those doorways, waiting for us to go away.

Einstürzende Neubauten should do a concert with each member perched up on the top floor of a different tower, put some real "strategies against architecture" into motion.

Until that can be arranged for me, here is pianist Ludovico Einaudi performing on the lunar landscape of installation

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