Thomas Hirschhorn made his name during the nineties with large-scale, three-dimensional collages made from cheap disposable material like cardboard, tape, plastic and aluminium foil. He combines these and other packing materials with texts, pictures from newspapers and magazines, and home-made objects like aeroplanes, watches, gold bars and streamers. Much interest has been shown in his works for public spaces, in which Hirschhorn criticises a society dominated by money and power. Hirschhorn’s work can be described as an extremely individual search for positive engagement with everyday social and political reality. The artist regards his installations primarily as a means of communication.

'Pilatus Transformator' is about the power of money. The title refers to the Pilatus aircraft that Switzerland could sell abroad. At the time, a referendum was held on the question of whether these military aircraft should also be sold to countries at war. According to Hirschhorn, it is difficult for citizens to form opinions on matters like this. After all, how can they gain insight into what actually happens? Videos of heads nodding yes and shaking no show the indecision of the voters, who do not by definition occupy a neutral place, because there may be economic dependency on the war industry, for example.


  • Title: Pilatus Transformator
  • Creator: Thomas Hirschhorn
  • Date: 1997
  • Physical Dimensions: 370 x 790 x 460 cm
  • Provenance: Acquired. ©Thomas Hirschhorn, Peter Cox/Bonnefantenmuseum
  • Medium: mixed media

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