NEW YORK, NY.-
Jointly organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art
and Tate Modern, Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, the most comprehensive overview of Roni Horns work to date, integrates three decades of the American artists sculpture, photography, installations, drawings, and books. Opening on November 6, 2009, the exhibition remains on view through January 24, 2010. Following the Whitneys presentation, it travels to The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, where it will be seen from February 19 to June 13, 2010.
Included in the exhibition are approximately seventy works, varying in scale from small drawings to room-sized photographic installations to sculptures weighing several tons. The curators, who are working in close collaboration with Horn, are the Whitneys Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs Donna De Salvo and curator of drawings Carter E. Foster, and Mark Godfrey, curator at Tate Modern.
As De Salvo, Foster, and Godfrey write in their introduction to the exhibition catalogue, One of the most compelling reasons to look back now at Horns work is to see how she has consistently addressed ideas about subjectivity and multiplicity while giving profound attention to materials and creating works of great beauty. There is an unwavering intensity in Horns ability to reconcile materials with personal experience. In a time of isolation and fragmentation, Horns singular and unrelenting focus on an object or an image demands much from viewers, but her work equally offers ample rewards to those willing to take the time to become a part of it.
For more than thirty years, Horn has been developing work of concentrated visual power and intellectual rigor, often exploring issues of gender, identity, androgyny, and the complex relationship between object and subject. Because the artist chooses not to privilege any one medium, Horns art defies easy categorization. Materials often used with remarkable virtuosity and sensitivity take on metaphorical qualities and relate key themes with great visual power. Horns interest in doubling and identity, for example, is central to understanding her approach to the genres of portraiture and landscape. Image-specific photographic portraits and ethereally beautiful abstract cast glass sculpture relay aspects of both. Similarly, Horns intricately cut and pigmented drawings suggest something of the elemental nature of the earth that relates in turn to how the landscape of Iceland, where Horn has traveled and made work since 1975, has informed her practice.
Iceland has been a place of continual inspiration to the artist. Since 1990 Horn has produced an extraordinary series of books titled To Place with photographs of lava, geysers, glacial rivers, and hot pools, which will be presented. As Horn is quoted in the catalogue, As a mass produced, portable object
the book goes out into the world, ultimately locating itself into the world where it is most desired. Horns interest in writing and language is also reflected in her sculptures in which lines from Emily Dickinsons writings are structurally embedded into aluminum rods. These machined, minimal pieces relate back in turn to sculptural installations like Things that Happen Again, for Two Rooms, which similarly uses an industrial process as a way to objectify language and give the viewer room for interpretation. Horns work has an undeniable material presence, a seductive, sensual beauty. Her means may seem simple, but her basic concerns with the nature of representation and the role played by the mind and subjectivity are deeply philosophical.
Major photographic works illustrate the various ways in which Horn has explored the genre of portraiture. This is Me, This is You (1999-2000) encompasses two separated panels of forty-eight paired photographs of Horns young niece as she plays with different identities and grows into adulthood. Cabinet Of (2001) comprises thirty-six photographs of a clown making expressions. In these works, the identity of the sitter is never fixed by the camera. You are the Weather (1994- 95) is an installation of one hundred close-up photographs of a woman immersed in Iceland's hot pools in changing climatic conditions, her features responding to the weather.
A large range of Horn's drawings are included in the exhibition, from her 1982 series Bluff Life to more recent works made from cutting and reconfiguring lines of pure pigment on expansive surfaces. Approaching them, their initial appearance shifts as one begins to look at the details of Horns cuts and pencil marks. Writing about the exhibition in its earlier, critically acclaimed incarnation at Tate Modern, Rachel Campbell-Johnston noted in the (London) Times: Horns work moves (rather than develops) in a way that we can never quite predict. She never allows us to feel too familiar or certain of our assumptions
To walk through this show is to walk into a world of constant reflections
Horns art is to show you something that you cannot see. And in The Guardian, Adrian Searle wrote, The complications multiply; the paradox is how simple Horns art at first appears
For all the airiness and feeling of space, the show still gives us Horns breadth and range.
Throughout the exhibitions installation at the Whitney, the integration and cross relationships among the mediums in which the artist works will be fluid and the presentation on two floors will explore structurally the crucial concept of doubling in Horns work.