Rebecca Horn

Ballet of the Woodpeckers

1986

In Tate Modern
Artist
Rebecca Horn born 1944
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

Many of Horn’s works reference or mimic animals. Here small hammers tap mirrors like birds startled by their own reflection. It was originally installed in a psychiatric hospital in Vienna. Long-term patients experienced it alongside external visitors. To recall the presence of the patients when the work was moved, Horn added two glass funnels filled with mercury. The liquid metal shivered in response to the vibrations of footsteps. Mercury is highly toxic and was later replaced by reflective foil for safety reasons.

Gallery label, May 2019

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