Gradiva Project

William Cobbing

William Cobbing’s solo exhibition ‘Gradiva Project’ at The Freud Museum incorporates new sculpture, installation and video related to the Gradiva bas-relief, a plaster cast of which Freud displayed in his study.
Gradiva is the subject of Wilhelm Jensen’s gothic novel, in which a young archaeologist, Hanold, dreams of the bas-relief coming to life from stone only to be buried alive underneath the ash of the AD79 eruption of Vesuvius. Hanold becomes enthralled with her distinctive gait (Gradiva meaning ‘beautiful step’), deluding himself that the fantasy of his dream can play out into the reality of his waking hours. Freud was fascinated by the novel’s archaeological dream narrative, relating it to his own psychoanalytic enquiry, namely ‘burial by repression and excavation by analysis’.
For the exhibition William Cobbing has embossed a copy of the Gradiva bas-relief onto a cast iron manhole cover, installing it on the pathway in The Freud Museum’s front garden. Placing the Gradiva cover underfoot, on the threshold of the Museum, reminds us that a journey to Freud’s former house is one leading into a realm of doubles and ghostliness. Inside the Museum Cobbing has created works drawing on Gradiva’s narrative of burial, memory and desire. In a series of videos people appear to be buried alive under layers of earthly material, wrestling with each other or their surroundings, to unsettlingly surreal effect. Discretely blended into the domestic space of the Museum is an immured figure, half excavated from a concrete casing and plumbed into a doorway, prompting a sense of a parallel existence behind the walls of the Museum.
 
Language: English