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Horn’s passage to India
NIDHI GUPTA  15th Apr 2012

Time Goes By

welve mirrors, attached with skulls to tall potted plants, swivel around the chamber to finally rest upon you, the gazer. At the feet of these trees lie bundles of saris. Musician Hayden Chisholm's spiritual Om rendition buzzes all around you and if you stare too long, the cacophony of sound and reflected light and your fractured, moving image might stir something disturbance-like within you. "How else could the spirit breathe through the third eye, creating a circle of light?" questions Rebecca Horn through this installation at the National Gallery of Modern Art, titled Jungle of Light.

With the exhibition Passage through Light, Germany's most exciting contemporary artist makes her Indian debut. The show, An India + Germany: Infinite Opportunities endeavour, is another mark in the year-long celebration of the special cultural relationship that the two countries share. Jungle of Light is Horn's special tribute to India, a work inspired by her meeting with spiritual guru Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in Europe that inspired in her "strange energies".

Horn, an eminent artist on the international scene has been on the forefront ever since her retrospective was showcased at the Guggenheim Museum of New York in 1994, including some of her most path-breaking work in a long, illustrious career. She has previously hung a piano, study tables and violins upside down; created kinetic sculptures with feathers, suitcases and batons; and conceptualised a variety of ordinary substances like gloves, cock-feathers, fans and moulded them onto human bodies to create a distinct narrative of objects around us.

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Jungle of Light is Horn's special tribute to India, a work inspired by her meeting with spiritual guru Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in Europe that inspired in her "strange energies".

The show features, among other things, her famous Einhorn — a film where a woman, as a unicorn, roams the wilderness strapped in white bandage and a tall horn on her head; another installation titled Time Goes By where 40,000 metres of developed Hollywood film is strewn around a pair of shoes belonging to actor Buster Keaton, sitting on a smattering of coal dust; a photo series called Notebook Samarkand, including pictures of mosque architecture superimposed on faces of people on the streets, touched up in gold paint and her 1990 film Buster's Bedroom, which follows a young woman's obsession with the Hollywood actor.

Her oeuvre remains distinct for the anarchy that she instils into her installations and performances, and the passions that they are quite likely to provoke. Yet, interpretation is left to the viewer; just like history (which she very promptly responds to) in all its post-modern parlance, what you make of her art is also subjective, seeing as she invokes her individual as well as collective memories, or the lack thereof, to surprise, horrify and finally trigger thought in you.

 
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