From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of salamis on a clothesline

First the ridiculous and then I’ll tell you about an amazing piece of art that I saw in Hamburg recently.

I like trying local foods so when I saw the Bayerische Spezialität on the menu I thought that it sounded interesting and, having fond memories of Munich, I decided in my ignorance to give it a try.

Ridiculous! See above – two raw rashers on a clothesline. I’m quite certain that a traditional Bavarian Mädchen would never clutter up her clothesline in such a greasy outrageous manner.

But the city of Hamburg has the largest art museum in Germany (the Kunsthalle) and it is well worth a visit to see works by the German Expressionists (including Emil Nolde), Caspar David Friedrich and the Northern Romantics (and there is also a very good contemporary section in the museum) but today, I want to mention just one piece of art that I saw in Hamburg (unless of course, you’d consider the food/ensemble above to be fine art). No, the artwork I mean is one that we encountered in a church in the city, in an exhibition entitled: Hinsehen Reinhören – die Kunst ist in den Kirken.

Sculpture by Rebecca Horn in Hamburg Church
Rebecca Horn: “The Universe in a Pearl”, 2006

This is an exhibition spread across five churches in Hamburg and includes works by Ai Wei Wei, Joseph Beuys, Guillaume Bruère and Rebecca Horn.  I found it very interesting because it was a collaboration between various churches and the arts community in Hamburg.  (I can’t imagine such a collaboration happening in Dublin)

In the booklet, roughly translated, it reads:  Art and the church have a long mutual past although in the modern era, they have often gone in separate ways. In this exhibition, contemporary art and the church communicate with each other:  The artwork is both a commentary and an inspiration as it responds and complements that which is to be seen and heard within the church building.

So in the Hauptkirche St. Katharinen we saw the sculpture by Rebecca Horn, a sculpture of golden cones and slowly moving mirrors which created the impression of falling deep into the earth on the one hand and then rising up to the heavens on the other. Hard to describe – but an amazing, uplifting experience which worked so well with the high vaulted ceiling of the cathedral.

sculpture by Rebecca Horn in a church in Hamburg

Sculpture by Rebecca Horn in a church in Hamburg
Tiled floor and arched ceiling slowly interweave in the revolving sculpture by Rebecca Horn

The mirrors were moving so slowly and the scene changing so gradually that the whole vista had a mesmeric, otherworldly feel to it. This is one of a series of mechanised sculptures that Horn began making in the late 1970s. I remember seeing her astounding “exploding” grand piano (Concert for Anarchy, 1990) in the past but this new piece was just sublime.

Rebecca Horn

Hinsehen Reinhören




  1. Eoin – That looks and sounds amazing, for sure – saw fascinating use of mirror at the EVA#18 in Limerick recently – unusual and gorgeous chandelier by I’m afraid I cannot remember her name, sorry!


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