This exhibition features a major new installation comprising of two huge, freestanding heated metal walls that measure approximately 11x4.5m and 6.5x3.5m respectively. The structures stretch across White Cube’s cavernous upper and lower galleries, dividing them to around a third of their normal size.
The metal is heated to a temperature of 45 degrees, significant because it is the maximum heat tolerated by the human body before blood coagulates and enzymes denature. The scale of the wall in each space, and the heat emitted, contribute to a sense of oppression intended for the viewer.
The work intends to address the current global socio-political climate and tightening immigration controls across Europe and at the US/Mexico border, while delivering a warning on climate change.
Balka’s sculptures and installations often rely on the five senses. Since the early 1990s he has worked with heat, interested in its relationship to the sense of touch, and the temperature of the human body.
This exhibition is a continuation of his recent practice, and major projects such the Tate Modern Unilever Series commission ‘How It Is’, in 2009. Comprising of a giant steel structure containing a vast dark chamber for the public to explore, the work asked visitors to place considerable trust in the gallery regarding their safety when interacting with the work. It was a result of the artist’s observations on the state of affairs in his native country, across Europe and the rest of the world.