Museum Tinguely in Basel and Centre Pompidou-Metz are presenting parallel exhibitions devoted to the artist Rebecca Horn. In this way, the two institutions offer complementary insights into the work of an artist who is among the most extraordinary of her generation. In the Body Fantasies show in Basel, which combines early performative works and later kinetic sculpture to highlight lines of development within her oeuvre, the focus is on transformation processes of body and machine. The Theatre of Metamorphoses show in Metz explores the diverse theme of transformation from animist, surrealist and mechanistic perspectives, placing special emphasis on the role of film as a matrix within Horn’s oeuvre.
Horn’s work is always inspired by the human body and its movement. In her early performative pieces of the 1960s and ‘70s, this is expressed via the use of objects that serve as both extensions and constrictions of the body. Since the 1980s, her work has consisted primarily of kinetic machines and, increasingly, large-scale installations that ‘come alive’ thanks to movement, the performing body being replaced by a mechanical actor. These processes of transformation between expanded bodies and animated machines in Horn’s oeuvre, which now spans almost five decades, are the focus of the Basel show. The exhibition juxtaposes performative works and later machine sculptures in order to follow the unfolding development of motifs of movement. Divided up into four themes, the Basel show traces the development of her works as «stations in a process of transformation» (Rebecca Horn), emphasizing the continuity in her work.