⟨ Art ⟩

A Contrary Concert

Rebecca Horn

Words / AY
Translation / Ian Tsang

在星期日的下午,德國明斯特市的 Zwinger 內總傳來鐵鎚敲牆的聲音。

明斯特市的 Zwinger 自古以來都是防衛性的建築物。納粹德國時期,這裡變成囚禁政治犯的監獄,也用作處決囚犯的地方。關在這裡的人大都是單獨囚禁在不見天日的牢房中,這是德國納粹政權愛用的方法,令囚禁的人沒有機會接觸其他人,在不知時日中人會感到絕望。於是被囚的人會敲打牆壁,假若隔壁也關著同是天涯憐落人,希望對方也以相同方式回應。得到敲牆聲音的回應,知道自己並非孤單的,於是便有勇氣堅持下去。

1987 年,德國藝術家Rebecca Horn 在十年一度的明斯特塑雕展中將Zwinger 這座遺址,變成一座體驗式的雕塑裝置 —— 〈Contrary Concert〉。參觀人士從入口走進漆黑一片的 Zwinger 內,會聽見一陣陣非常有規律的鐵鎚敲牆聲音- 「叮、叮、叮……」。Zwinger 在第二次世界大戰時逃不出盟軍的炸彈,部份結構並不完整,加上在昏暗光線下,只能依稀看見原有單獨牢室的隔間。「叮、叮、叮……」參觀人士在看不清前面是甚麼的情況下,會感到恐懼非常。

在沙石地一步一步向前行,會走到 Zwinger長滿野草的中庭。那裡有陽光從破頂灑下,光影部份彷彿標記這裡曾經發生過甚麼。拾級而上,背後傳來逐漸微細的鐵鎚敲牆聲音,走到上層看到破頂處裝了一個透光的圓頂,那是1997 年Horn為作品加置的部份,那透光的圓頂聽說在陽光普照時會現出彩虹,彩虹出現之處,正是中庭的部份長滿野草的部份。聽說那裡曾是處決囚犯的地方。

Horn 在這個雕塑裝置中,讓參觀人士在黑暗經歷在 Zwinger 中曾經發生過的,然後為這裡最黑暗的部份鋪上陽光,讓黑暗跟光明相對照。像德國人處理自身歷史中黑暗的部份,就是讓它們暴露在陽光下。只在逆向的處理中,黑暗才能被光明完全吞沒。

(註: 明斯特的 Zwinger 是常設的公共雕塑,但開放時間只在星期日下午二時至四時。)

On Sunday afternoons, from within Zwinger in Münster of Germany comes the knocking of an iron hammer against the wall.

In the olden days, Zwinger in Münster was an edifice that had always served fortification purposes. During the Nazi era, the place had been turned into a gaol for imprisoning political criminals as well as for executing prisoners. Most of those who were were held there were put in solitary cells without sunlight at all. It was their favorite way of dealing with prisoners, denying them any chance to interact with other people and reducing them to despair in the dark. That was why those kept inside would knock on the wall, hoping that if someone on the other side of wall shared the same misfortune, the other party would respond the same way, through knocks against the wall. Then they would know that they were not alone, and that gave them the courage to hang in there.

In 1987, Rebecca Horn, a German artist, turned this historic site of Zwinger into an experiential sculpture installation titled “Contrary Concert” during the Münster sculpture exhibition held every ten years. As visitors enter the dark Zwinger from the entrance, they can hear intervals of rhythmatic knocking of iron hammers on the wall — “ding, ding, ding…”.  Given Zwinger suffered the same fate of being bombed by the allied forces during the Second World War, part of its structure was incomplete. Furthermore, under the dim light, one can only vaguely see the partitioning of the original solitary cells inside. “Ding, ding, ding…”  As visitors cannot see clearly what is in front of them, they will feel extremely afraid.

As you move forward, step by step, on the sandy ground, you will reach the atrium, which is blanketed with wild grass. Sunlight slants in through the broken rooftop, and it is as though the light and shadow had recorded what had happened before here. As you climb the stairs, you can hear the knocking of iron hammer against the wall gradually fading away. On the top floor, you will see that a transparent rounding top has been installed at the broken section. It was Horn’s addition to the installation in 1997. It is said that on a bright sunny day, a rainbow will appear at the top, extending all the way to the blanket of wild grass in the atrium. There is a saying that it was where the prisoners were executed.

Within this sculptural installation, Horn lets visitors experience what had happened within Zwinger in the dark, and then lets sunlight cover the darkest part, thereby creating a contrast between dark and light. It is similar to how the Germans deal with the darker parts of their history — by exposing them in the sunlight. Only in this reverse process can darkness be completely engulfed by sunlight.

(Note: Zwinger in Münster is a permanent public sculptural display, but it is only open from 2-4pm on Sunday.)

Image courtesy of the writer.