Rebecca Horn: The Films

Born in Germany in 1947, Rebecca Horn is considered one of the major artists in Europe. She started her career in the sixties dealing mostly with sculptures, performance and film. The same as other Conceptualists artists did at the same time in America lead by Vitto Acconci, John Baldessari and Laurence Winner. Later on she developed her own unique language that spread through varied media, such as installation, drawing, sound and cinema. But film making become her major art form. She was the first in a long list of artists that wrote and directed full length Art Films using actors and Hollywoodian means.

The Center for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Goethe Institute Tel Aviv initiated a full retrospective of all Rebecca Horn’s film oeuvre to be shown at the CCA and the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The screenings and publishing of a bi-lingual (Hebrew & English) catalogue about Horn’s work gives a unique opportunity to look at her large scale body of work.

The body works documented in Horn’s early films may be divided into two groups: those which explore the body’s self-perception, particularly where it is extended by appendices and artificially heightened immobility, and those which investigate movement and space. In general, what the actions with body sculptures documented in these two compilation films show is the deep trauma of sickness, and the wish for healing and physical supremacy. In Head Balance, Shoulder Extensions, Head Extension, and White Body Fan one witnessed transformations of the body, accompanied by tinges of alchemical archetypes: through horns, feathers, and wings the body becomes a mythical creature. The deeper significance of these works, however, lies in self-affirmation and in the renewed communication with and rediscovery of the surrounding world, issues that in this period were of crucial concern to post-minimalist circles on either side of the Atlantic. In this respect, Horn’s work clearly corresponds with Bruce Nauman’s film essays or Vito Acconci’s performances.

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