“In the Beginning”… an Intermedial Babel


In the Beginning was a major exhibition of Anselm Kiefer’s work at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn in 2012. The exhibition included, among other works, several large-scale lead book sculptures, and featured Bavel Balal Mabul (2012),  an installation filling an entire room and bringing together many of Kiefer’s key themes: mythology, memory, and history; apocalypse, regeneration, and transformation. It shows the tower of Babel in the shape of a spiral staircase-like structure, spanning from floor (the Earth) to ceiling (the Heavens). Tumbling down the metal stairs are picture rolls that gather at the bottom of the tower like the wastage on the cutting room floor of a photographer’s or a movie editor’s suite. If we look more closely, we notice that these ribbons of paper are each composed of multiple black and white photographs.3 Strung together, the photographs are like a film reel. Each photograph depicts a tower and as a reel they show towers at various stages of (de)composition. The images come from other gigantic installations Kiefer created, including the architectural landscape of concrete towers molded from shipping containers at his studio in Bajac, France.

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