Wittgenstein’s Dream: Gavin Turk

26 Nov 2015 – 7 Feb 2016

Regular hours

12:00 – 17:00
12:00 – 17:00
12:00 – 17:00
12:00 – 17:00
12:00 – 17:00

Cost of entry


Freud Museum

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Finchley Road
  • Nearest tube: Finchley Road, 5 min walk from Museum
  • Finchley Road & Frognal , 5 min walk from Museum

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Throughout his famous publication The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Sigmund Freud analyses his own dreams as examples to prove his new theory of the psychology of dreams. He maintained that a dream is the conscious expression of an unconscious fantasy or wish, which is not accessible to the individual in waking life. However the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose sister was incidentally a patient of Freud, claimed that Freud’s views on interpretation of dreams were completely mistaken. Gavin Turk’s project for the Freud Museum includes a life-size waxwork sculpture of Wittgenstein contemplating an egg. Turk’s ghostly figure of Wittgenstein installed in the hallowed and highly charged domain of Freud’s study sets up an intriguing conceptual dialogue between these two enlightened Viennese thinkers. Above Freud’s iconic couch Turk has hung a large photograph of billowing smoke that relates to the human tendency to instinctively associate its patterns and forms with something familiar in the same way as we do with dream images.

Turk has also installed three neon language works ‘Id’, ‘Ego’ and ‘Super Ego’ on the staircase. These relate to Freud’s paper published in 1923, an analytical study of the human psyche, of fundamental importance in the development of psychoanalysis. In the dining room he has hung a photowork that explores the Narcissus myth which inspired Freud. Turk has echoed Freud’s iconic desk and chair by installing his own version in the first floor exhibition room. As an ironic contrast to Freud’s beloved antiquities, Turk has arranged his own personal collection of intriguing, talismanic objects and keepsakes that relate to his artistic practice. The display will be annotated with a museum style key describing each object. Hanging above the fireplace in Freud’s library, he also includes a wooden framed version of his celebrated “Mechanical Turk’ video that references Freud’s interest in the game of chess and its parallels with psychoanalysis. This also relates to Turk’s ongoing fascination with illusionism and the notion of what is ‘real’ and issues of authorship, authenticity and identity.

Wittgenstein’s Dream is the latest in the critically acclaimed ongoing series of Freud Museum exhibitions curated by James Putnam that have included projects by Sophie Calle, Sarah Lucas, Ellen Gallagher, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Mat Collishaw and Miroslaw Balka.


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