[…] However diverse the various artists’ interference with the room may have been, none of their works involved a dimension as space-consuming, in the literal sense, as the installation by Rebecca Horn. […] [It] captures the room in its full floor-to-ceiling height by having a golden 5-metre rod traverse its centre. In the spot where it meets the floor, right in front of the Torah ark, there is a rectangular steel trough filled to the brim with black water. Like the point of a needle, the pole pierces the water surface, executing movements at shorter or longer intervals that resemble the writing of characters. The movements are accompanied by the dissonant strains of a violin mounted high above on the wall opposite the rod.
What at first glance strike you as the doings of an invisible hand turns out to be a rather humble mechanism once you take a closer look. Violin and rod are attached to machines that operate them in a nifty out-of-sync rhythm. Whenever the machines come to a standstill, the room is mirrored in the black, shiny, seemingly abysmal water surface. You will see it dissected again, not by the movement of the rod but by its reflection. As the mechanism lurches back into motion with distinctly audible sounds, undulations and light reflections begin to blur the image again.
The installation subjects the room to an enormous transformation, yet it paradoxically falls short of dominating its intrinsic atmosphere. Rather, the architecture, whose very starkness is the key to its beauty, gains a virtually brilliant radiance in the play of reflections, while the religiously and historically motivated symbolic power of the site enhances the associations the artist evokes through her language of form. However, the in some ways overly explicit symbolism of the installation and its close intertextuality with Jewish religion and mysticism could encourage simplified one-sided interpretations that stifle the complexity of the oeuvre and invest it with an inappropriate sort of pathos. The oblong steel trough, placed at a right angle to the Torah ark, features bulges on its two long sides that call to mind an open book that is being inscribed by the golden rod as if by an axis linking heaven and earth.