Rebecca Horn is a German visual artist know for her body-modification suits made throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, which often resulted in performances or short films. After contracting severe lung poisoning from the inhalation of fibreglass whilst making sculptures at art school, Horn was often bed bound and unable to work with such harsh materials, so began to draw with colouring pencils. She began to design extensions of the body, and was able to sew them from bed, using soft materials. The body extensions connected Horn to the outside world, extending her physically into it. They also present a certain sense of power that reinforced her sometimes ailing natural body.
I am interested in how the personal tragedies of Horn’s life, such as her serious illness, and isolation through loosing her parents very young resulted in such a powerful and defiant series of works. Horn uses the body as a tool, a vessel to hold these constructions, creating threatening and fantastical propositions about the power and form of the human body. Her works exist in a space of hysteria, as I feel that her works almost naturally seem to exist, growing from the body after a state of clear emotion distress – they have an uncanny organic ability.
Without words, they seem to express a sense of power. There is no need for language with these works, as Horn has found away to express herself purely through the invention of forms. One can only speculate on similarities between the forms when merged with a human and pre-exisiting objects or animals – they cannot state the forms are anything concrete, because they are created without language, purely from the remnants of hysteria. I would like to explore the sense of power created in Horn’s works, and the way that one can grow from the experience of acute emotional difficulty and express themselves through pure, unloaded forms.