The Towers Tell a Story
“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer
When making his work, Anselm Kiefer was profoundly inspired by the idea of the tower in history, with many references to the architecture of the past, but especially to its symbolic value. His towers, which each consist of between five and seven modules, testify to what remains after every conflict. Their precarious look does indeed make them appear like ruins, as the memory of a by no means distant past, or the foreboding of a possible future. When looking at them, some have wondered: “Are they the remains of an ancient city, an industrial settlement or of a village with asbestos-cement roofs?” There is no single answer to this question, for there can be many interpretations and everyone can apply their own imagination to them.
• Art and image
The activity is designed to show the kids a different approach to history, letting them discover how the same architectural forms may be repeated in every age, but with different functions, depending on the particular historical period. Having them build a tower of their own to reflect their world and their needs, and choosing a particular historical period for this, is designed to include them actively in the flow of time and make them the manual creators of a past that will testify to the present. Individual work and a spirit of cooperation between classmates will also be developed.
At the beginning of the activity, the kids will be shown pictures of various towers that have been built throughout the course of history, from ancient lookout towers to bell towers, minarets and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, through to towers of distant cultures and the modern towers of our cities, such as skyscrapers and chimneys. The class will then be divided into groups and each one will be asked to invent a tower, taking inspiration from the ones they have seen together, imagining what it might look like and be used for, and what functions it might have. The students will decide whether to take inspiration from a historical tower or to make one that might suit their present needs.