Rebecca Horn

Ballet of the Woodpeckers

1986

Original title
Ballet der Spechte
Medium
Glass, metal, tranformers, motors and egg
Dimensions
None
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with assistance from the Patrons of New Art 1991
Reference
T06551

Display caption

This work was originally constructed for the entrance hall of a theatre, situated within a psychiatric clinic in Vienna. It was the first time in the clinic's history that patients and visitors could meet, touching each other through their mirrored images. Small hammers peck against the mirrors in constantly changing rhythms. They are like birds discovering their own image as they fly towards their reflections. One of the woodpecker machines cuts into a bundle of charcoal. The dust falls to the ground, with a mound settling on an egg suspended just above the floor. In order to recall the presence of the patients left in the clinic after the installation was dismantled, Horn later added two glass funnels filled with trembling mercury.

Gallery label, September 2004