Roni Horn

5 March - 3 July 1994
work in collection

The work of the American artist Roni Horn (New York, 1955) has not been on view very frequently in our country, but abroad - particularly in Germany, Switzerland and the United States - it has already been shown widely. Her sculptures could be seen in the latest edition of Documenta and in recent solo presentations at Museum Abteiberg, in Monchengladbach, and Galerie Jablonka in Cologne. In the United States, Horn frequently exhibits at Mary Boone Gallery; this spring the Baltimore Museum of Art will be holding a solo exhibition of her work. Since 1992 Roni Horn has been represented in the collection with Pair Field, an installation from 1991.

Pair Field is the largest work from a series of sculptures that began to emerge during the mid 1980s. Each sculpture consists of at least one pair of identical forms. These objects are manufactured with very modern mechanized production methods which make it possible for them to be identical. In the series Things That Happen Again (1987-90) Horn presents successive aspects of the relationship between two such identical forms. The truncated cones of copper are placed in such a way that they can never be viewed at one time. The effect of this experience is stereoscopic: memory and sight intersect and produce a single experience which occurs both in the present and in terms of memory. In Pair Field the (eighteen) pairs are distributed across two spaces. The second space has less depth than the first and thereby seems to have been rotated in terms of orientation. In each space the single forms lie in the same configuration, but in the smaller one they have been pushed together in one direction. Merely due to this difference, the configuration does not immediately come across as being the same.

Duplication plays a significant role throughout Roni Horn's entire oeuvre. Her drawings have also been constructed in pairs: two forms on one sheet of paper, but often, too, separate drawings displayed alongside each other or on opposite walls. The notion of place - how it takes shape, what it is and what it means - is of major importance to the artist. The development of this in Horn's work is based on the twofold meaning of the word 'place' as a noun and as a verb, 'to place'. In the Pair Objects and particularly in Pair Field, these meanings converge: the how and the what are the same. That is precisely what Roni Horn finds fascinating about the geologically young island Iceland, where the landscape corresponds to a topological map of its volcanic origins. Horn first visited Iceland in 1975 and has gone there almost every year since then. In order to document her fruitful affinity with this place, Horn is publishing a continually expanding series of books which have the collective title To Place.

Horn's fourth and most recent book, Pooling Waters, is a collection of photographs depicting natural and artificial thermal springs throughout the country. This is accompanied by a second book containing writings by the artist in which she chronicals her travels.

In one of these texts Horn asks herself why she needs to return to Iceland 'with the regularity of a migratory bird'. She finds it difficult to define that need and ultimately discovers an answer in the biography of Emily Dickenson, a poet whose words Horn has incorporated into recent sculptures and installations. Dickenson (1830-1886) opted for a life of seclusion at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Upon her death she left a legacy of 1775 poems, which have in fact been described as a structural element in the life of the poet, a means by which she was able to weave a surrounding space - an inner space - where she herself could be the pivotal figure. In her work Roni Horn pays tribute to Dickenson's strength and creative solitude, affirming an emotional affinity with her.

In addition to recent works from the series How Dickenson Stayed Home, various Pair Objects and four publications from the series To Place will be part of the exhibition in Tilburg.