Iceland, beauty and deja vu
April 4, 2009 10:08 AM   Subscribe

In the early 1980s, Roni Horn travelled to Iceland and lived alone for a few months in the (supposedly haunted) lighthouse at Dyrhólaey. While there, she made rocky, earthy drawings. They formed the first volume of a currently incomplete, abstract encyclopedia of the country [flash navigation] which has now progressed to include beautiful photographs of hot pools, glaciers, lava and rivers. A river's surface has appeared in different guises within a university. She has even made a library of water in a little Icelandic town. However, those currently in or near London can visit an exhibition in Tate Modern.

The stars of Horn's work are water and its surfaces, time, memory - and all the echoes thereof. The overall flavour is of purity and simplicity of form. There are deeply fascinating studies of the surface of the river Thames in London, and fascinatingly deep pieces of cast, annealed optical glass.

As we cannot step into the same river twice, so it is obvious that one beautiful face may not look the same if photographed a few seconds or days later. And just as we are usually very good at recognising anything familiar, time can blur our perception, and there is a chance that it may not be the same thing at all. Pairs of photos and objects explore this strange relationship between surface and substance, whether the photos are of a hot spring or a bird's head.

Horn also achieves beautiful effects by cutting together similar drawings onto a single large surface, further blurring the boundaries between one thing and another. And she is very good at causing you to doubt your perception of single objects. This, for example.

Thanks for looking. I hope someone enjoyed it. Please go easy - it's my first post on the blue and I didn't want to include too much, but at the same time hadn't seen anything else about the work anywhere on mefi. Further exploration is, naturally, readily available via sites already linked to, google, flickr, etc.
posted by paperpete (7 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Great post, only flawed by an unneccesary disclaimer.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2009

In school she had tremendously long wavy/frizzy red hair, like 5 feet long. She was pretty serious as a student, she looks happier now in that picture. I like that her art is both conceptual and decorative.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:05 AM on April 4, 2009

This is an excellent first post, paperpete. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to your next post in 2013.
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on April 4, 2009

Roni Horn is an incredibly talented artist. I remember seeing a double blue glass sculpture piece in NYC (@ Dia?) that I still think of, often. They were large blocks of blue cast glass - but the pieces were in separate rooms. The unexpected "re-experiencing" of the object/room/encounter was powerful.

(And yes, paperpete ... no disclaimers needed. Great post.)
posted by R. Mutt at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2009

Impressive! Thanks for introducing me to a new artist.
posted by zinfandel at 7:39 PM on April 5, 2009

I'm glad I shooed her work around the internet a little bit more then! Thanks, everyone.
posted by paperpete at 4:10 PM on April 6, 2009

I'm planning a trip to Iceland this summer - we will be spending a day in the vicinity of Stykkisholmur, and I had read about the Library of Water in my Wallpaper Guide - we are definitely planning to drop by there. Thanks for the post.
posted by matildaben at 9:43 PM on April 6, 2009

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