"Horizontality is a desire to give up, to sleep. Verticality is an attempt to escape."
- Louise Bourgeois

Through repeated contact with ‘things’, we have a certain expectation of how they will behave. Bringing a full cup to our lips, lifting a stack of books, sinking down into a soft couch, we faithfully approach these endeavors with an understanding of the way our bodies, and minds, will relate to matter upon meeting it. We do not even need to touch - in observing a marble sculpture we recall previous encounters, and can imagine the cool, firm surface beneath our fingers. It is with this expectation that Anna Horne delights in interfering. With her new body of work, the Adelaide-based artist creates a delay in the reading, a lingering moment of miscommunication between object and viewer.

The sculptures that form A Balancing Act exist in a precarious state. They possess both an intense physicality and a latent energy. Populating the floor, a table, and suspended from the ceiling of the gallery, they are at once soft and hard, light and heavy, and we carry this sense of tension with us as we navigate the space.

Part of our learned behaviour with objects is born from their treatment, historically, in art and in culture. A hierarchy persists between the everyday and ‘eternal mediums’ of stone, marble and bronze. Horne’s approach to materials is egalitarian, playing upon this history by placing concrete, foam and floor vinyl on equal footing with their ‘superiors’. Horne offers the impermanent perpetuity; in one work polystyrene is treated tenderly, as though precious, and cast in solid aluminum. Another playfully sits atop a pedestal of faux marble vinyl. These acts shift the balance of power between the commonplace and the ‘classical’, the ephemeral and the enduring.

In the artist’s studio, Horne gives herself over to the process of making. She works on multiple sculptures at once, allowing the forms to shape her direction. Industrial techniques such as fabricators are relied upon sparingly as Horne prefers to use her own hands in a manner that allows for a ‘certain amount of individuality and emotion to find its way into the work’.[1] This process of repetition with subtle variation speaks to a heritage of 1960s minimalism although by favouring the hand-made, Horne imbues each form with the individualism of 1970s post-minimalism.

Here lies another fine balance between two states of being. A key component of the post-minimalist ideal was the rejection of the cold, repressive geometries of minimalism as overtly and exclusively masculine. Eva Hesse in particular felt that the emphasis on systematic structures and the lack of touch was oppressive and, in the beginnings of the articulation of a feminist point of view, believed that ‘if art was going to be liberating it would have to be coming from a more human truth’.[2] In Horne’s Leather, this tension plays out within a solid square form tempered by supple leather and the warm hue of terracotta. The netting surrounding many of her objects recalls the minimalist grid and yet is softened, almost made into a skin.

In Horne’s evolving visual vernacular, the dissonance between expected and actual behaviour increasingly evokes the fragility of the lines we set between one thing and another. It is within those lingering moments it takes us to ‘understand’ the materiality of Horne’s sculptures that we think on how easily the definitions of the things around us are open to change.

Joanna Kitto


[1] Conversation with the artist, May 2017

[2] Art critic Kenneth Baker, 1998 paraphrasing Hesse in Eva Hesse’ Feminist Point of View www.sfmoma.org/watch/eva-hesses-feminist-point-of-view

Anna Horne (b. 1986) is a South Australian artist exploring materiality, process, and the transience of the physical world through the field of sculpture. Her practice plays with balance and the force of gravity and focuses on the opposing qualities of light and heavy, soft and hard, familiar and strange. The works are made using utilitarian, domestic and industrial materials including concrete, plaster, vinyl, rope, and polystyrene.

Horne is a graduate of Adelaide Central School of Art (2008) and was a 2014 John Fries Award finalist. Exhibitions include: Between the lines, Gachang Art Space, South Korea (2016); Light Weight Heavy, BUS Projects (2016) and Fontanelle (2015); Peculiar Familiar, Australian Experimental Art Foundation (2015); Turning it inside out, Contemporary Art Centre of SA Project Space (2010); Recall, Firstdraft (2013); and Improper Fractions, Constance ARI (2013).

Horne has presented public art works in temporary projects including FELTnatural ephemeral public art project (2014); Arts SA Sculpture Hire Program, State Administration building (2014) and Ibidem: public art project, Adelaide Festival Centre (2012).

Residencies include: Gachang Art Studio, South Korea, (Asialink 2016); Sanskriti Kendra, New Delhi, India, supported by Helpmann Academy (2013); and Artspace, Sydney (2012).