Roni Horn’s work consistently generates uncertainty to thwart closure in her work. Important across her oeuvre is her longstanding interest to the protean nature of identity, meaning, and perception, as well as the notion of doubling; issues which continue to propel Horn’s practice.
Since the mid-1990s, Horn has been producing cast-glass sculptures. For these works, colored molten glass assumes the shape and qualities of a mold as it gradually anneals over several months. The sides and bottom of the resulting sculpture are left with the rough translucent impression of the mold in which it was cast. By stark contrast, the top surface is fire-polished and slightly bows like liquid under tension. The seductively glossy surface invites the viewer to gaze into the optically pristine interior of the sculpture, as if looking down on a body of water through an aqueous oculus. Exposed to the reflections from the sun or to the shadows of an overcast day, Horn’s glass sculpture relies upon natural elements like the weather to manifest her binary experimentations in color, weight and lightness, solidity and fluidity. The endless subtle shifts in the work’s appearance place it in an eternal state of mutability, as it refuses a fixed visual identity. Begetting solidity and singularity, the changing appearance of her sculptures is where one discovers meaning and connects her work to the concept of identity.
For Horn, drawing is a primary activity that underpins her wider practice. Her intricate works on paper examine recurring themes of interpretation, mirroring and textual play, which coalesce to explore the materiality of color and the sculptural potential of drawing. Horn’s preoccupation with language also permeates these works; her scattered words read as a stream of consciousness spiralling across the paper. In her ‘Hack Wit’ series, Horn reconfigures idiomatic turns of phrase and proverbs to engender nonsensical, jumbled expressions. The themes of pairing and mirroring emerge as she intertwines not only the phrases themselves but also the paper they are inscribed on, so that her process reflects the content of the drawings. Words are her images and she paints them expressionistically, which—combined with her method—causes letters to appear indeterminate, as if they are being viewed underwater.
Notions of identity and mutability are also explored within Horn’s photography, which tends to consist of multiple pieces and installed as a surround which unfolds within the gallery space. Examples include her series ‘The Selected Gifts, (1974 - 2015),’ photographed with a deceptively affectless approach that belies sentimental value. Here, Horn’s collected treasures float against pristine white backdrops in the artist’s signature serial style, telling a story of the self as mediated through both objects and others—what the artist calls ‘a vicarious self-portrait.’ This series, alongside her other photographic projects, build upon her explorations into the effects of multiplicity on perception and memory, and the implications of repetition and doubling, which remain central to her work.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Selected Group Exhibitions
Awards and Grants
Lectures and Broadcasts
Exhibitions Curated by Roni Horn
Artist’s Books & Writings
Book Design and Misc.
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