Roni Horn Dead Owl 1998

Roni Horn
Dead Owl 1998
Two Iris-printed photographs, ed. of 15
© Roni Horn

Things That Happen Again: For Two Rooms 1986 (Room 3 and Room 4) is one of four installations Horn developed in the late 1980s using two identical truncated solid copper cones. In this installation, the viewer enters a room to see the first object and then proceeds to a second room which contains its pair. Though the cone in the next room is identical, the experience is different because it is filtered through the memory of the first object. The effect can be disconcerting, since the viewer cannot check if the parts are the same. The space between the objects becomes part of the work as attention is displaced from the objects themselves to their situation and circumstances.

Horn’s pairs sometimes appear side by side, as in the diptych Dead Owl 1998 (Room 5), where the doubling of the photograph changes its emphasis: the work is about proximity and how the presence of two may alter the original identity of one. Horn’s doubles are not always identical, but they are never polar opposites. If the artist thinks in pairs it is never to suggest a hierarchy between one element and another: each element in a pair has its own identity.

Horn’s use of pairing and doubling always intensifies the encounter with her works. The effect of experiencing a form twice is one of amplification rather than repetition. The viewer becomes aware of the part they play between the two elements. ‘The idea was to create a space in which the viewer would inhabit the work or at least be a part of it,’ Horn has said.