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Peter Stephan Jungk
Photo: Bank Austria Kunstforum

12.10.2021

Schneider des Herzens

The novelist Peter Stephan Jungk is a friend of the artist Rebecca Horn. In the digital guided tour that accompanies the exhibition in the Bank Austria Kunstforum, he describes what her studios look like and what is so special about Horn’s highly playful work.

Here, to put you in the mood for the guided tour, Jungk offers you an exclusive insight into how he got to know Rebecca Horn and why her work fascinates children and adults alike.

Concert for Anarchy
Photo: Gregor Titze

Bank Austria Kunstforum Vienna
Photo: Bank Austria Kunstforum

Humour plays such a major role in the work of Rebecca Horn that I would even describe it as one of her fundamental positions. At the same time, she’s a very serious individual and has produced many installations that address the Nazi era. But then there is her consistent love of the playful, of experimentation. I’ve spoken to people who’ve taken their children to the exhibition in the Bank Austria Kunstforum – and the kids loved it. Horn’s art is ageless, visitors aged 7 to 107 can enjoy this exhibition.

A dialogue between heart and art

We got to know each other 14 years ago in somewhat unfortunate circumstances. If it hadn’t been for my heart operation we would never have become so close. The surgeon who should have carried it out was, in reality, far too old for such a task. I panicked and a friend recommended another doctor to me. And, as it happened, this surgeon was extremely close to Rebecca Horn. Their relationship was very important to her and she also created a work for him: Der Schneider des Herzens.

As I’m not a particularly discreet person I immediately wanted to spend my first appointment with this doctor talking about Rebecca Horn. He said that if we did so he wouldn’t be able to operate on me anymore, because he would lack the necessary distance. I understood straight away. Then, after the operation, we began to meet regularly. Rebecca and I quickly became very close, as if we had always known each other. I’ve often visited her in her studios. And I dedicated my novel ‘Das elektrische Herz(The Electric Heart) – a dialogue between a playwright and his heart, two characters who both fight and love each other– to her and the surgeon.

Rebecca Horn
Photo: Gunter Lebkowski

High Moon
Photo: Gregor Titze

Rebecca Horn’s factory of dreams

Rebecca Horn should actually have taken over her father’s textile factory. Both her brothers had died but Rebecca never dreamed of continuing this legacy. So her father died a disappointed man and the factory stood idle for 30 years. It slowly crumbled, until Rebecca set up her studios there. Her machines, which can also be seen in the Kunstforum, require lots of space. She doesn’t do everything herself and has a fantastic technician, who works with her. But they’re still her creations. She works just like in a factory, I call it a factory of dreams, because it’s the place where these astonishing works are created.

Dreams and sighs: Peter Stephan Jungk’s favourite work

In private, she prefers to talk about things other than her work. Novelists don’t like talking about their work either. She tends to be somewhat reserved about such matters. The invisible is much more important to her than the visible. She’s someone who doesn’t only deal with hard facts. She’s happy to digress into the dream-like and the metaphysical. And she takes her dreams very seriously, realising them in her work. I’m fascinated by the way in which she finds a poetic lightness in concrete, often heavy things. One of my favourites amongst her works is the Schildkrötenseufzerbaum of 1994. Funnels grow on the branches of a tree and one can hear about 30 voices. People from all around the world are complaining about something that’s getting them down. At the same time, there’s nothing depressing about the work. Quite the opposite in fact, for there’s something astonishingly uplifting about listening to these sad voices.