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The Distance Within Us - The Press on Anish Kapoor’s Memory at the Deutsche Guggenheim
The Press on The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden
Reviews of the 2008 California Biennial


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“The Distance Within Us”
The Press on Anish Kapoor’s Memory at the Deutsche Guggenheim

Anish Kapoor’s monumental sculpture Memory weighs 24 tons, yet despite this, the 14th commissioned work for the Deutsche Guggenheim still seems amazingly “immaterial.” The rust-colored object appears to defy gravity, establishing contact with the exhibition space in the subtlest of ways. Kapoor induces the viewer to become active and to approach Memory from its various different point of access. Yet none of these perspectives alone enables the viewer to experience the work fully. The press reactions show the variety of ways in which the enigmatic work of the Turner prizewinner can be interpreted.

“A submarine” (Berliner Zeitung), an “unexploded bomb” (Frieze), a “UFO that’s just landed” (taz), or an “oval bubble” (Architektur & Wohnen)—Anish Kapoor’s Memory inspires critics to a myriad of associations. The mammoth object, a “new milestone in Kapoor’s career” (, “maintains his ambiguous position between the genres of sculpture and architecture,” according to Laura Battle of the Financial Times. The commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim “presents three discrete and non-synchronous faces to museum visitors,” explains Daniel Miller in Frieze. “The first snub-nosed and sheer; the second conical and rocket-shaped; the third a yawning mouth leading into the structure’s interior. Memory the creator, memory the preserver, memory the destroyer.” In his feature for Deutschlandradio Kultur, Carsten Probst describes a different view of Memory: “For a moment, the viewer is asked to forget gravity and is drawn into a space that he or she cannot comprehend in its dimensions.” To Probst, Kapoor’s works seem like “entrance gates into the world of divine experience that exists beyond all images.” For the Hindu Times, “The viewer is transported into a spiritual realm,” while Claudia Funke of the taz points to Kapoor’s “Concept of emptiness, of the tension between form and formlessness, the material and the immaterial” and its references to Buddhist philosophy and the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich.

The view into the work’s dark interior also evokes a number of different associations: “One imagines looking beneath the thin skin of an imaginary organism, into a womb perhaps, or the infinity of space,” writes Albert Jaritz in the Märkische Oderzeitung, while Gabriela Walde of the Welt detects classic modernist influences. “The staircase (…) reveals a breathtaking view. The impressive giant has opened its tremendous mouth, and within this dark, frame-shaped opening two square meters in size, a black square appears—an homage to Malevich and Suprematism. A brilliant sculptural trick: the three-dimensional sculpture is transformed into two-dimensional painting.”

For Ingeborg Ruthe of the Berliner Zeitung, Kapoor creates a “secretive space in which the eye and the object, the subject and the external world reconnect. (…) One becomes aware of one’s own corporeality while sensually experiencing the corporeality of Kapoor’s sculpture.” In the Tagesspiegel, Christina Tilmann underscores the sculpture’s “effect over a longer period of time. (…) It continues living on in the memory, assembling itself into ever-changing facets of recollection, like a kaleidoscope, and results mainly in one thing: longing. The longing to look into this dark emptiness once more, to once again experience something that lasts perhaps only seconds, but that has a kind of eternal value. (…) The nebulous distance that Caspar David Friedrich’s wanderers see when they look out across the sea is similar to the spatial experience of Memory. It is the distance within us.”

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