Roni Horn Pi 1998 (Installation view at Tate Modern, 2009)

Roni Horn
Pi 1998 (Installation view at Tate Modern, 2009)
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, Zürich
Photo © Tate

Pi 1998 (Room 10) comprises 45 photographs, mostly taken along the Arctic Circle in the north of Iceland over a six year period. Horn thinks of the work as ‘a collection of circular and cyclical events’. Combining portraits and landscapes like many of her other works, Pi depicts Hildur and Bjorn Bjornsson, who harvest eider feathers from nests and spend evenings watching Guiding Light, an American soap opera, on TV. The natural cycles of the birds’ nesting and the harvest are presented alongside pictures suggesting the repetitive narratives of popular entertainment. Seascapes looking out towards the Arctic Circle intersperse these images, giving continuity to the disparate visual material. The carefully sequenced photographs are hung quite high up in a continuous horizon throughout the room so that the viewer looks up towards them. The viewer is pushed back from the view, focusing on the whole rather than on parts.

Though the work charts a mode of living in a specific place, Horn was not interested in reportage or narrative: ‘There is no prescribed beginning or end, and no single motif dominates. The potential for narrative, which actually is implied in the nature of the imagery, never actually evolves. Thwarting narrative is one way to engage people’s interest.’