Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Things that happen again: for a here and a there 1988
Roni Horn

“Act of looking at an object any object, is transfigured by gender, race, social-economic class and sexual orientation’ Felix Gonzalez-Torres on Roni Horn’ The Gold Field’ 1990

I read an essay some time back by Dawoud Bey, focusing on black artists working abstractly. The essay went on to propose that many of these artists fell by the wayside due to a lack of political potency in the work. I don’t know really… but I don’t recall encountering many black abstract artist during my studies. There is particular trajectory for black and feminist art, which I accepted without question as my lineage and example. The politic and the theory competed with the art – perhaps in many cases preceded it. This made for extremely ‘grounded’ work; work that had a ‘rationale’ or an argument for being in this world. In some respects, this approach did little for my belief in the art object itself. I have more faith now, but I’ve always got to see some part of the world of relations around it.

This is why I keep mentioning influences… in the early days it was about identifying with the artists persona - now I try to find conditional parallels (if that make sense). For example one aspect of Roni Horn’s work is to do with her androgyny, the potential change in perception according to where, when and who encounters her. Her use of the double is an attempt at articulating this experience.

Initially the work appears incredibly formal, her sculptures continue the minimalist ideal, but she moves it on. In her glass works Horn takes Judd’s preoccupation with surface, but its not a fortress, she offers a solid, highly reflective but penetrable form. Her drawings totally blew me away when I saw them a couple of years ago, they begin as very simple lines, which she duplicates, on other pages tripled or quadrupled even. Then over time they are incorporated into one drawing, one multifaceted surface, lots of seams and joins – apparently she relates these to tectonics.

I am intrigued by Horn’s project, which (she admits) is heavily influenced by the time she spends in Iceland – where the Earths geothermic force is immanent. That experience has brought about a metaphor; the earth’s liquid core and living surface, with the mutable and sometimes volatile nature of subjectivity. I haven’t managed to walk around springs or up volcanoes, but I keep looking up at the wind through the trees...

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