Exploring the effect of multiplicity, perception and identity, Roni Horn plays with a disjunction between the physical properties of sculpture and the pictorial illusions of its presence in ‘Untitled (“12% of Americans believe that Joan of Arc was married to Noah.”)’
Roni Horn, New York, 2011. Photo: Juergen Teller
Horn’s longstanding exploration of, and engagement with, cast-glass sculptures dates back to the mid-1990s and underscores her exploratory practice. To produce these works, colored molten glass is poured into a mold, which gradually hardens over the course of three to four months. The resulting sculpture is highly textural: its sides are rough with the impression of the mold in which it was cast while its fire-polished top is smoothy and glossy, resembling a crystalline pool of water.
‘Transparency has this beautiful kind of paradox to it: these objects are massive in tonnage and fragile—they have very odd qualities in one package that I think people sense... The object has a kind of presence that takes it away from simple visual or common-sense understanding.’
Due to its formal properties—in particular, its captivating transparency—the sculpture appears to be in a constant state of change, adapting its appearance to its surroundings. Gradations of sunlight and shadow activate the work, fluctuating between heft and lightness, solidity and fluidity, and opacity and transparency. In this way, Horn’s glass sculptures embody the heart of her practice: probing the relationship between mutability and place.
Horn derived much of the inspiration for her cast-glass series from the thermal pools of Iceland, with icy white and blue examples prevalent in this evocative body of work. In particular, Iceland’s wet climate and thermal pools have inspired some of Horn’s most significant works, including the long-term installation, ‘Vatnasafn / Library of Water’ (2007). More broadly, Iceland’s everchanging geography and geology—which is shaped by ongoing volcanic activity—has long attracted Horn and parallels themes fluctuation and variability in her practice.
Literary themes, which are present throughout much of Horn’s work, are also reflected in her glass sculptures. The artist derives titles for works from quotations sourced from the writings of authors like Emily Dickinson, Flannery O’Connor, Hank Williams, and Anne Carson. Horn’s titles offer a narrative portal through which to enter and explore her work, while still retaining an open and ambiguous quality. For this sculpture, Horn quotes from a 2007 article by Tim Flannery in the ‘New York Review of Books’. The title—simultaneously comical, concerning, and perplexing—draws attention to paradoxical and experiential qualities of the artist’s work.
Our new private viewing space is now open in the Village of Southampton, on the South Fork of Long Island, New York, presenting key works by artists in our program, including Louise Bourgeois, George Condo, Lorna Simpson, and others. ‘Untitled (“12% of Americans believe that Joan of Arc was married to Noah.”)’ by Roni Horn can be viewed at the gallery by appointment from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm EST.