In the late 40s,when a 20-year-old Rebecca Horn was working with glass fibre without a mask in her sculpture class,she fell sick and had to be admitted to a hospital. It took her a year to recover completely. However,as she lay on the hospital bed,she realised that she was surrounded by what she calls material.
I had my two hands intact and I would sit in the bed and draw, said the artist,who was at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on Thursday morning,overseeing preparations for her debut exhibition in India.
From paper,Horn quickly changed her medium to her own body,which went on to become the most distinguishable part of her works,and later also included films and performances in her works. Perhaps,that is what defines her unconventional oeuvre over the last 40 years. Art is all about innovation, she reiterated,as she started talking about the exhibition,which is called Passage Through Light. The exhibition is the result of a collaborative effort by the Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities event,along with NGMA and Germanys Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations.
Horns prominence in international contemporary art comes forth through her category-defying creations such as Unicorn and Pencil Mask,some of her first works that had her working with the idea of bodily extensions; and through site-specific works such as Concert in Reverse,in which she has used a concentration camp in Munster,Germany,to give the space a positive energy. Besides,she has extensively used objects such as pianos,metal hammers,water basins and funnels in her art,projecting her deep desire to liberate objects from their limited definition.
For her India exhibition,Horn has inevitably brought along her India-inspired work titled Jungle of Light,which is made up of traditional Indian material such as bamboo,clay,sari,mirror work and lights. While talking about this particular work,Horn further stresses on her need to bring art and the human body closer. You will see a dialogue between the bamboo plants and people. Its like passing through reality to death,and ultimately to the soul, she explained. Though conceptualised while she was in Berlin,the structural details of the work were planned after her India visit in November 2011,when she spent some time in an ashram,and felt a strange energy.
Apart from Jungle of Light,Horn has also brought along many of her artwork done in the 70s,a compilation of her drawings and sculptures,some films and documentaries directed by her and even some poems penned by her.
The exhibition will be on from April 8 to May 20. Entry is free.