Roni Horn

Roni Horn’s work is now becoming a clear inspiration.  Two headline reasons are my interest in her  poetic use of landscape through photography and the sculptures/text and sculptures/concrete poetry pieces. Her books and catalogues have a balance between word and image, but I need to see a full show of Horn’s work to gauge how this works in an exhibition context.  I feel that her varied work in text and image and this beautiful balance between them, is close to what I am trying to find for my own work for the coming summer exhibition.

You are the Weather, 1994—1995
64 C-printed photographs and 36 gelantine-silver prints
Installation view, Matthew Marks Gallery

There are so many coincidences of thought and process.  Firstly the sense of series – you are the weather is made up of multiple pictures of the same subject – the work is dependent on these being seen together and in the same space, this fits into a historical view of ‘series’ that goes all the way back to Steiglitz’s Equivalents series.  Equally it is crucial that ‘weather ‘ is a series of photographs taken over time, the viewer immediately equates the title with what is shown, weather ‘happens’ daily so we assume the photos of Horn’s companion and lover are taken daily and in a similar position – the thing that changes is the ‘weather’, but of course the implication is that weather affects mood and so we look to see how the mood varies in each shot and then maybe speculate that this ‘weather mood’ affects the  relationship between the subject and the photographer. This is further emphasised by the intimacy of the chosen location, the edges of the many pools and hot springs that the two were near on their travels around Iceland. This location at the edge, between the two physical states, air and water, wet and dry, creates a dichotomy between the intimacy of the private moment but also points to a certain distance between the two, an unequal relationship, with different power or different artistic aims.

Horn’s sculpture – particularly the work using text seen in the above images – resonates with me for different reasons.  The short words or phrases are made physical through different media and through the different methods the texts are applied.  In most cases the text line is carried into three dimensions as if the text literally ran through the object, like a stick of rock.

[no title] 1999 by Roni Horn born 1955

Horn uses text with image in footnotes a particular way in some series, deploying tiny numerals and small passages of linked text at the base to add her ideas and thoughts about the context of the large image displayed. In  the Tate Gallery’s Still Water (The River Thames, for Example)  seven dramatic close up  images of the surface of the river thames are heavily annotated with information and ideas inspired by extensive research by Horn into the history and life of the river Thames particularly its darker history.

‘Close inspection of the images reveals that tiny numbers in typeface are dotted like specks of flotsam over the water’s surface. These numbers refer to footnotes printed along the lower edge of each image’s white border. The footnotes present a series of musings and quotations on the significance of the river and the moods and narratives it evokes.’                                                       From: Tate website – downloaded 2nd June 2016

  • Horn, R (1995) making being here enough – installations from 1980 to 1995. Basle.
  • Horn, R (1994) Island – to place pooling waters.Walther Konig. Koln.
  • Neri, L and Cooke L and de Duve, T (2000) Roni Horn. Phaidon Press Ltd. London

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