Water, Selected is a print of a detailed, physical map of Iceland. Imposed onto its contoured and annotated landscape are twenty-four orange-coloured labels marking Iceland’s glacial sources of water.
P79355 is related to a larger project of Roni Horn’s: Vatnasafn/Library of Water, a permanent installation in the small town of Sykkishólmur in Iceland. The project was commissioned by Artangel, and was the first international project of this London-based organisation. It opened in May 2007.
For Vatnasafn/Library of Water, Horn transformed a former library on a hill-top above Sykkishólmur (‘the most beautifully situated library in the world,’ according to the artist) into an ‘archive of water’. James Lingwood, co-director of Artangel, has explained: ‘At the heart of the initial proposal and the realised project was Roni’s idea to renew the building as a place both for quiet observation and reflection for community gatherings of different kinds. She imagined Vatnasafn/Library of Water as “a lighthouse in which the viewer becomes the light”.’ (Quoted in http://www.libraryofwater.is/flash/main.html.)
The installation unites two separate works: You are the Weather (Iceland), a rubber floor embellished with a collection of Icelandic and English words about the weather, on which stand twenty-four floor-to-ceiling glass columns holding glacial water, entitled Water, Selected. Thus P79355 connects specifically with Water, Selected by mapping out the locations from which the glacial waters displayed in the installation are exactly derived.
Horn’s connection with Iceland is a long-standing one, having visited there first in 1975. Iceland is, in her words, ‘an open-air studio of unlimited scale and newness’ (quoted in http://www.libraryofwater.is/flash/main.html
). In 2000 she was commissioned by the University of Akureyri in Iceland to produce Some Thames, a permanent installation of some eighty photographs of water. They are displayed in the institution’s public spaces, thus echoing the flow of human traffic through the University. These images focus on the movement of water to capture the river Thames’s changeability and its ‘incredible moodiness’ (quoted in ‘Roni Horn Interview: Water’ [n.p.]). However, the installation Water, Selected and the related print P79355 seem to privilege stasis over movement by creating a record of glacial waters that are ‘old and pure ... frozen many hundreds of years ago.’ (Quoted in Horn, 2007, p.66.)
The work is a limited edition giclée print, and Tate’s is number three in an edition of 150.
‘Roni Horn Interview: Water’, Art:21–Art in the Twenty-First Century, http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/horn/clip1.html
, accessed 18 March 2009.
Roni Horn, ‘The Master Chameleon’, TateETC, no.10, summer, 2007, pp.62–7.
Roni Horn: VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER, http://www.libraryofwater.is/flash/main.html, accessed 25 June 2009.