Unicorn is one of Horn’s best known performances pieces. I twas one of a series of performances concerned with the cultural aspects of the numerous body extensions thematized throughout her career collectively presented in the films Performances I, 1972, and Performances II, 1973. ‘Einhorn’ (‘Unicorn’) – super 8mm, color, 12 minutes – tells of a woman who walks through the countryside for 12 hours with the ‘Unicorn’ object on her head and demonstrates Horn’s interest in the poetical/mythological figures.
In the shimmering heat
In the billowing field
A small white point
Moves towards you…
- Rebecca Horn –
The woman is described by Horn as ‘very bourgeois’, ’21 years-old and ready to marry. She is spending her money on new bedroom furniture’, walks through a field and forest on a summer morning wearing only a white horn protruding directly from the front of the top of her head and the straps holding it there. These straps are almost identical to the ones worn in Frida Kahlo’s painting Broken Column. The image, with wheat floating around the woman’s hips, is simultaneously mythic and modern.
The unicorn was a medieval symbol for purity, chastity and innocence. The German title Einhorn also contains a pun on the artist’s name. This work was designed for a performance by a friend of the artist. Horn wrote: « The performanc took place in early morning – still damp, intensely bright – the sun more challenging than any audience… her consciousness electrically impassioned; nothing could stop her transe-like journey: in competition with every tree and cloud in sight… and the blossoming wheat caressing her hips. » This account emphasizes both graceful movement and the element of self-exposure that is often found in Horn’s work. (September 2004)