Roni Horn

New York USA 1955, lives and works in New York

Kafka's Palindrome
1994
aluminium and plastic
irregular quadrangle<br/ > 11 x 107; 103,5; 91,5; 124,5 cm
1994.RH.06

Due to the use of aluminum and its industrial finish, Kafka’s Palindrome by Roni Horn is somewhat reminiscent of works from Minimal Art, particularly those of Donald Judd. But whereas Judd’s forms are rectangular, the outline of this volume on the floor is an irregular quadrangle. The sides contain black plastic letters which make up the following sentence: It would be enough to consider the spot where I am as some other spot. In order to read this sentence the viewer must move around the object, something which one could regard as a radicalization of, but also as a break with minimalism.

With Minimal Art, the spatial experience of the work of art gained crucial importance during the sixties. By renouncing the pedestal, the artist was abolishing the distinction between the everyday world of the viewer and the imaginary space of the sculpture. The viewer then shares the space with a work of art that is clearly an object and becomes aware of his role and situation in the space. The sentence in Kafka’s Palindrome suggests, however, that the spot where the ‘I’ is located should be seen as a different spot – that the spot must first be transformed by the imagination in order to be truly experienced. Horn thus gives the work an imaginary dimension which contrasts with the ‘literal’ approach of Minimal Art.

The use of a poetic text in Kafka’s Palindrome is no exception in Horn’s work: fragments of poems by Emily Dickinson have been incorporated into an extensive series of works. ‘I felt my life with both my hands,’ wrote Dickinson: this act of feeling one’s own presence is of great importance to Horn. That is why she emphasizes the role that subjective impressions and memories play in perception.