If you’ve been paying attention to recent contemporary art, both in Japan and abroad, you might be struck by the question “Why now?” during a visit to German artist Rebecca Horn’s survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOT), Tokyo.

Entitled “Rebellion in Silence: Dialogue between Raven and Whale,” MOT’s exhibition is the first large-scale presentation of Horn’s work in Japan, but it falls short of making a statement about where the artist, who made her international debut in 1972 at one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions, documenta, stands in the current art landscape. The exhibition is split across two levels of the museum, with third-floor gallery space given mainly to mechanized sculptures combining aspects of figuration and disparate fauna such as seashells and feathers, and ground-floor gallery space devoted to Horn’s feature films and performance documentation.

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