This exhibition, the most significant overview of American artist Roni Horn’s practice to date, will show her earliest works from the mid-1970s alongside pieces from the intervening years and new sculptures. For Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, all the windows in Tate Modern’s west galleries will be uncovered so that Horn’s sculptures can be seen in shifting natural light
Horn has always defined the meaning of her work as the experience that the viewer has with it. In the 1980s she made pairs of copper objects and showed them in different relationships, for instance in two separate rooms. Unable to see both objects simultaneously, the viewer remembers one when encountering the next. Many of Horn’s works feature paired elements which might be similar or identical although the viewer’s experience of each is unique. The exhibition will include the diptych Dead Owl 1997 and the sculpture Paired Gold Mats – For Ross and Felix 1994. Pairing carries a different nuance with the latter, as it can be seen as a tribute to two lovers.
Many of Horn’s works are connected to her ideas about identity. Critical of fixed categories, she explores ideas around mutability and androgyny. Horn has written that ‘Androgyny is the possibility of a thing containing multiple identities.’ Her work as a whole is formally and materially diverse, while individual works also explore change. Still Water (The River Thames, for Example) 1999 is an installation of photographs of the river’s surface with footnotes written by Horn about its history and our relationship with water. Her solid glass sculptures do not have fixed identities, their appearance altering with reflected light.
Three major photographic works show 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 48 paired photographs of Horn’s young niece as she plays with different identities and grows into adulthood. Cabinet Of 2001 comprises 36 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 100 close-up photographs of a woman immersed in Iceland’s hot pools in changing climatic conditions, her features responding to the weather. The ‘You’ in Horn’s title addresses the viewer who might sense that they are causing the shifts in the woman’s expressions.
The exhibition will also look at Horn’s engagement with Iceland, a place in which geological identity is continually in flux. Since 1990 she has produced an extraordinary series of books titled To Place with photographs of lava, geysers, glacial rivers, and hot pools which will be presented within a room of cabinets. Adjacent to this display there will be the related photographic installation Pi 1998 which explores geological, animal, and human cycles of life around the Arctic Circle.
A large range of Horn’s drawings are included in the exhibition, from her 1982 series Bluff Life to recent works made by cutting together similar drawings and reconfiguring them on expansive surfaces with pencil annotations. Approaching them, their initial appearance fragments when one begins to look at the details of these cuts and pencil marks. Rarely shown in the UK, these drawings will be placed throughout the exhibition.
Roni Horn aka Roni Horn has been been organised by Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The exhibition is curated by Mark Godfrey at Tate Modern and Donna de Salvo and Carter Foster at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It will travel to Collection Lambert in Avignon, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the ICA Boston. It will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication in two volumes: a show-specific catalogue with a lead essay by Briony Fer and an artist’s book with Horn’s own writing and texts by thirty other artists, curators and writers.