Friday, March 20, 2009

Becoming a landscape

I have been asked by another Roni Horn enthusiast whether I'm going to post about the Tate's 'Roni Horn a.k.a. Roni Horn' exhibition... Well, here goes, although as I start to write this I can't help recalling that the subject of landscape barely featured at the discussion of her work at Tate Modern, and wondering if I've therefore already given her disproportionate attention here (with The dark river, Thicket No. 1, Hot Pot at Strútur, To Place: Verne's Journey and Frequently the woods are pink). And yet I think my earlier posts have so far only touched on a few aspects of what seems a fundamental connection.

The two-volume exhibition catalogue has a Subject Index which includes entries on 'desert', 'rocks', 'island', 'trees', 'water', 'weather'. These were written by Roni Horn and other commentators like Tacita Dean and Hélène Cixous (some previously unpublished). There's one entry for 'landscape': 'The point at which something becomes too complex to be itself only. This is the place where a thing becomes a landscape'. So for Roni Horn, landscape is more than just a view. This is a quotation from notes accompanying a set of photographs, Becoming a Landscape (1999), which connects close-up portraits with shots of geothermic pools in Iceland. I'm intrigued by the way she blurs landscape with other forms like 'portraiture', as in You are the Weather about which she has said "I did have a very specific idea that I wanted to see if I could elicit a place from her face—almost like a landscape."

In connection with You are the Weather, Roni Horn has made a collection of 'adjectives that apply to humanity and the weather equally'. Bad, balmy, beautiful, bitter, breezy, bright, brisk, brutal etc etc. These words were embedded in the floor for an exhibition in Munich (1996) and the same thing has been done this year at Tate Modern (in the room which showcases her artist books). They are also selling Roni Horn T-shirts with some of these adjectives on them: balmy, moist, dull. Hm... not sure what I think of these... but I do love the exhibition and would highly recommend it.

1 comment:

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