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'Roni Horn: Everything was Sleeping as if the Universe were a Mistake' opens in Barcelona
Installation view.

BARCELONA.- The exhibition Roni Horn. Everything was sleeping as though the universe were a mistake is organised by the Fundació Joan Miró and Obra Social ”la Caixa”. It will be open to the public from 20 June to 28 September 2014 at Fundació Joan Miró, and from 13 November 2014 to 1 March 2015 at CaixaForum Madrid. The press conference was held with the presence of the artist Roni Horn, winner of the 2013 Joan Miró Prize, Elisa Duran, Deputy Executive Officer of Fundació ”la Caixa”, and Rosa Maria Malet, Director of the Fundació Joan Miró.

The show has been conceived by the artist herself, and explores the different media and approaches that she has used over the past twenty years. It covers the major themes and formats that make up her work: sculptural installations, photographic series, working drawings, and a floor piece entitled Rings of Lispector (Água Viva) that combines drawing and literary quotes. The title of the exhibition Everything was sleeping as if the universe were a mistake is taken from Fernando Pessoa’s Livro do desassossego, published in 1935.

The exhibition is intended to offer an overall experience, like a huge installation comprised of all the pieces on display. The selection of works, which Roni Horn made with the Fundació Joan Miró and CaixaForum Madrid spaces specifically in mind, is a compendium of the elements that underpin the artist’s creative process: people, the landscape, light, words, water, presence, glass, faces, change, forms, series, spaces, the appearance of the self, and time.

The show begins with a sculptural installation from the White Dickinson series that includes quotes from the poet Emily Dickinson in each of the pieces. It is followed by the photographic series You are the Weather, Part 2, an updated version of one of Roni Horn’s key works that consists of one hundred black and white and colour portraits of the same woman bathing in thermal waters in Iceland. The woman’s facial expressions change subtly in each image, reflecting the weather conditions around her.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is Untitled (‘My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the deathcup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.’), a sculptural installation comprised of ten cylindrical cast glass elements in subtly shifting shades of green. This recent piece, which has only previously been exhibited at Hauser & Wirth gallery in New York, responds to the shifting light, creating a sensory experience of colour, weight, lightness, solidity and fluidity.

The exhibition also includes two rooms set aside for working drawings. As in the case of Joan Miró, drawing has been an essential aspect of Roni Horn’s work over the last thirty years. She herself considers it her principal activity and the seed of all her works, regardless of the final form or material they take.

Other works in the exhibition Roni Horn. Everything was sleeping as if the universe were a mistake include Dead Owl, a double portrait of an owl that questions appearance and similarity; the series of self-portraits a.k.a., the photographic mosaic Her, Her, Her and Her, a project about scopophilia in the locker rooms of a swimming pool complex in Iceland, which is exhibited alongside the black glass sculpture Opposite of White, v.2; and Still Water (The River Thames, for Example), a series of photographs showing the dark side of the River Thames as a place where people go to commit suicide.

The floor piece Rings of Lispector (Água Viva), another example of the importance of literature in Horn’s work, consists of passages from Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector arranged in concentric circles on the floor that visitors can walk on. The literary titles offer a narrative way into her work, while still maintaining its ambiguity.

The exhibition includes three videos on the work of Roni Horn: a documentary by US television network PBS; an episode from Contacts, a documentary series on photographers by Jean Pierre Krief; and the video of the performance Saying Water, which features a monologue by the artist.

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