A conversation between Roni Horn and Eugenie York
HRH Princess Eugenie of York has been working at Hauser & Wirth since 2015. She is a Director based in London. During her time working across gallery projects, art fairs, and events, Eugenie has built close relationships with a number of artists—Roni Horn among them.
Eugenie York: When you hear people say that your work brings them joy, as I did, do you feel that’s something you have done with your art?
Roni Horn: Yeah, I think when somebody is affected by the work, that’s as good as it gets. I mean, really, what else is there to do? So, I always feel like when I see something and I’m in a position to tell an artist what I think, I do that. When they are affected by what I do in terms of how it touches their life, that is really very moving for me.
EY: Can you tell me about Double Mobius, v.2?
RH: There are two versions. The Double Mobius idea is obviously a kind of absurdity, because a Mobius is a form of infinity, in effect a single endless surface.
So ‘doubling’ infinity is a kind of absurdity, but it carries the metaphor of relation that interests me. The second version is two ribbons—two Mobius—which are strips of gold that have been constructed so they have one single surface. And they are completely separate, except that I roll one inside the length of the other, so they are inseparable. In other words, they’re made completely separate but they’re linked in a way that makes sense. One thing. So that’s Double Mobius.
‘Things never really go away with me. They re-emerge in time and have a different understanding; I have a different understanding. I guess that’s the nature of living, those changing perspectives and identities.’
Roni Horn, Remembered Words—(Snake Eyes), 2012 – 2013 © Roni Horn
Roni Horn with Dead Owl, v. 3, 2014 – 2015 © Roni Horn. Photo: Jason Schmidt
EY: Can you tell me about Remembered Words—(Snake Eyes)?
RH: I just started it to literally recall words. In other words, not in a premeditated way with alliteration or depending on some sort of device. I was in a meditative space, taking words out of life, you know, either because of experiences you’ve had or it’s what comes to you. So not really attached to any agenda, so to speak. It’s like a word without any encumbrance.
My book, Remembered Words: A Specimen Concordance, collects together all the words that were quoted in those drawings; I don’t know how many thousands of them there are in the little paperback. It’s quite entertaining to read it, because you have these alphabetized rivers of odd connections.
EY: This is what I love about your work: looking at these ‘remembered words’ I’m taken to your show in Zurich last year, when we saw that incredible piece on the wall, of clichés. Viewing that work took me back to all these memories from childhood—and each viewer would have remembered different moments when people have said those exact phrases to them.
RH: It’s kind of a verbal icon. You usually associate an icon with a visual image—it is by definition a visual image. To take it a step further, an icon is something that is part of the culture because of its occurrence; it occurs and has a very strong value in a given culture. Clichés function in exactly the same way.
EY: When you look at the different words you’ve chosen, I’m reminded of different series that you’ve done in your career. There are themes that keep resurfacing, which feel really connected to you and your practice.
RH: Things never really go away with me. They re-emerge in time and have a different understanding; I have a different understanding. I guess that’s the nature of living, those changing perspectives and identities.
EY: Back to Snake Eyes—can you tell me why it’s called that?
RH: You know when you roll the dice and get ‘snake eyes?’ I’m always reading about gambling and that kind of stuff because it really interests me so much. There’s an expression called ‘hard eight’ in craps, and there is a film called Hard Eight by Paul Thomas Anderson. I think it was his first film. That’s where these remembered words are coming from— my cultural history and preferences. It’s kind of like a biography, an autobiography of sorts.
EY: It’s a different way of showing people who you are?
RH: ‘A Specimen of Concordance’ gives a good idea about me directly, it’s a portrait in itself.
Roni Horn’s ‘Remembered Words–(Snake Eyes)’ is part of Hauser & Wirth’s presentation at Art Basel, from 13 – 16 June 2019.