Roni HornJanuary 31 – April 26, 2020
Roni Horn, Pi, 1997-98 (detail).
Forty-five Iris-printed photographs on Sommerset
satin paper, framed. All artwork © Roni Horn.
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
“Iceland could have been anywhere. But as it turns out, Iceland suited my needs. In fact, it seemed to form a perfect complement to my native home, New York. Iceland is the place where I have the clearest view of myself and my relationship to the world. By clearest view, I mean a view that is less constricted by social conventions.”
“Iceland is primarily young geology. Young geology is very unstable. In a literal sense, Iceland is not a very stable place. Iceland is always becoming what it will be, and what it will be is not a fixed thing either. So here is Iceland: an act, not an object, a verb, never a noun. Iceland taught me that each place is a unique location of change. No place is a fixed or concluded thing. So I have discarded the noun form of place as meaningless.”
― Roni Horn, excerpt from an interview with Jan Howard, pages 102–104, Roni Horn, 2000, Phaidon Press.
For more than forty years, American artist Roni Horn has developed a richly diverse practice that spans drawing, sculpture, photography, installation, and books. Exploring wide-ranging topics including human identity, ecology, landscape, weather, and language, Horn’s work intermingles material and context, complicating relationships between object, subject, and viewer in the process.
Her exhibition at the UMCA concerns the landscape of Iceland, where Horn has traveled and made work since 1975, and how it has informed her practice. The exhibition’s focus is Pi , an installation comprised of 45 Iris-printed photographs, 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.”¹ Combining portraits and landscapes, Pi charts a mode of living in a specific place, though Horn was not interested in reportage or narrative. The installation forms a frieze around the room, sewing this circular work together through memory and movement. The artist says, “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.”²
Unobstructed views of the ocean are interspersed with those shot through windows in the home of an elderly couple whose portraits appear throughout the exhibition. They harvest the down from the nests of Eider ducks, and Horn includes images of the feathery nests. Outside influences infiltrate and become part of the continuum. Iceland had only one television station for years, and every afternoon many tuned in to watch the American soap opera, Guiding Light. Stills from this program punctuate Pi , marking the passage of time with the soothing recurrence of the same. Horn sets this mundane drama against the routine life cycles of birds in Iceland. This series of photographs embody a collision of nature and culture, a haunting interruption in the entropic flow of life and death envisioned in this exhibition.
1. Roni Horn in conversation with Lynne Cooke, p. 8, Roni Horn, 2000, Phaidon Press Limited, London
2 Ibid, p. 9
About the Artist
Roni Horn (b. 1955) lives and works in New York. Recent solo museum exhibitions include The Drawing Institute at The Menil Collection, Houston (2019); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2018); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2017); Glenstone, Potomac (2017); Fondation Beyler, Basel (2016-2017); De Pont Museum, Tilburg (2016); and Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles (2015). A major retrospective Roni Horn aka Roni Horn (2009-10) was jointly organized by Tate Modern in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her works are featured in many important public collections, including MoMA, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Kröller-Müller Museum, The Netherlands; and Kunstmuseum, Basel.
Opening Reception January 30, 5 – 7:30 p.m.
January 30, 2020
4:00 – 7:30 P.M. / Reception for the Artist
4:00 – 5:00 / Come early to engage with the art!
5:00 – 6:00 P.M. / Roni Horn in Conversation with Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette and William Daniels; moderated by Professor Shona Macdonald
Julie Brigham-Grette is a glacial geologist and a professor in the Department of Geosciences, specializing in paleoenvironments and climate evolution of the Arctic and subarctic. William Daniels is a postdoctoral researcher in the Climate System Research Center in the Department of Geosciences, focusing on reconstructing Arctic climatic, ecologic, and anthropological changes. Moderator Shona Macdonald is an artist, professor, and chair of the Department of Art at UMass Amherst.
6:00 – 7:30 / Refreshments and cash bar
Roni Horn Exhibition Walk-through
Artists Justin Kimball (Conway Professor of New Media, Amherst College) and Jenny Vogel (Associate Professor of New Media Art, UMass Amherst) will give their personal takes on Roni Horn’s Pi.
The UMCA gratefully acknowledges the UMassFive College Federal Credit Union and Chartpak, Inc. for their support of our 2020 exhibition program.
Thanks are also due to Hauser & Wirth Gallery, New York, for their kind coordination of this exhibition.