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Tower of the Nameless

image of artwork

Rebecca Horn

Tower of the Nameless


Ladders, violins, motors, electronic components

Private Collection, Vienna, Austria

The breakup of Yugoslavia and the resulting Bosnian War led
to the displacement of a massive quantity of people. Many refugees fled into
Vienna, and soon the underground was filled with listless wanderers who did not
speak German or have any semblance of a home to return to. With no identity,
grasp of the language, or place to stay, music become the refugees’ only way to
express their shared sorrow. Horn created this piece in hopes of offering
stability to a nameless and lost people. The sculpture is composed of several
ladders extending from the ground and up to a very high window, adorned with
nine mechanical violins that play a single, mournful note on their own. It is
as if they sing of some kind of bittersweet hope of what might lie at the top
of the ladder and out into the sun. The melancholy humming of the violins has
been known to inspire buskers to improvise along with them.