Boston, Mass.—Opening Feb. 19, 2010, the Institute of Contemporary Art presents Roni Horn aka Roni Horn—the most comprehensive survey of the American artist’s work to date. Using a variety of materials such as 24-carat gold, glass, and pure pigment, Horn’s startlingly beautiful work focuses our attention on how things remain what they are and yet are never exactly the same from moment to moment. Never fixed or constant, “the true genius of Horn’s work is that it pins down flow and change itself (Washington Post).” For the first time, the ICA has extended a West Gallery exhibition into the museum’s lobby, where Pink Tons, a magnificent five-ton translucent glass sculpture, and aka, a series of self-portraits, are on view. Over 50 works spanning three decades of the artist’s career are included—from sculptures, photographs, and collage/drawings to artist books, and an audio work that will be played in the ICA’s Founders’ Gallery overlooking Boston Harbor. Roni Horn aka Roni Horn runs through June 13, 2010. ICA Associate Curator Randi Hopkins is coordinator of the exhibition. Roni Horn aka Roni Horn is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in association with Tate Modern, London.
“Experiencing Roni Horn’s art against the dramatic backdrop of the ICA—where light, weather and water are continuously in flux—crystallizes some of her key themes of change, perception and memory,” says Jill Medvedow, Director of the ICA. “Her work invites close observation and viewers are all the richer for the beauty and pleasure Horn’s art reveals.”
“In Horn’s work, nothing is quite as first appears,” says Hopkins. “A sculpture that appeared solid can look liquid when approached from a different angle, while a pair of gold mats can appear to glow when the sun lights up the space between them. For Roni Horn, the experience of looking at an object and perceiving these changes is as meaningful as the object itself.”
Many of Horn’s works are presented as pairs or series, which on close observation reveal subtle differences between their parts. You are the Weather (1994–5), for example, is an installation that creates a horizon-line of 94 close-up photographs of a woman immersed in hot springs in Iceland—a place whose unique landscape, geology and climate have been an inspiration for the artist since the 1970s. The viewer notices small, indeterminate changes in the woman’s expression. Is she happy? Is she sad? Or is it the effect of the hot temperature on her skin? We don’t know. The 'You' in Horn's title addresses the viewer, who might wonder if they are causing the shifts in the woman's expressions.
The exhibition also includes one of Horn’s first pieces, Ant Farm (1974-5)—a live community of ants placed between two panes of glass filled with earth. The ants burrow their tunnels before the viewer, creating a landscape of complex patterns, not unsimilar to the lines of her large scale drawings. Much as we see in Horn’s later work, Ant Farm invites close observation and a direct experience between her art, nature and our own sense of discovery.
Themes of gender, androgyny and the mutable nature of identity re-surface continually in Horn’s work. Even her solid glass sculptures do not have fixed identities. In Pink Tons, a shift in light or perspective gives the appearance of a liquid surface belying the five-ton heft of this stunning work. This is Me, This is You (1999-2000) includes two composites of 48 photographs of Horn’s young niece taken over time. The almost dizzying array of expressions, emotions, and physical changes captured in the photographs offers a more accurate portrait of her niece, while suggesting the impossibility of representing such a complex and fluctuating presence as a single person.
Horn’s diverse body of work prompts us to consider the many variables that influence the way we see and understand—personal experience and memory, shifts in light or shadow, the continual march of time.
Roni Horn was born in New York in 1955, and lives and works in New York and Reykjavik. She received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Yale University. Horn's work has been exhibited widely in major museums and galleries throughout the US and Europe. A retrospective was presented at the Museé d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1999. Horn has received the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, several NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim fellowship. She has had one-person exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Dia Center for the Arts, New York, among others. Group exhibitions include Documenta (1992) and the Venice Biennale (1997), among many others.
Image caption: Roni Horn, You are the Weather (detail), 1995, Gelatin silver prints and chromogenic prints, 16 of 17 sets, Each 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (26.7 x 21.6 cm), Courtesy: The artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London © Roni Horn
A press preview for Roni Horn aka Roni Horn
will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 9:30 a.m. RSVP to Colette Randall at 617-478-3181 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition is accompanied by a two-volume publication that presents the most comprehensive overview of Horn's work to date. Part one includes an essay by Briony Fer and color plates and checklists of works in the exhibition. Part two is an illustrated “Subject Index” of alphabetically organized entries by Horn and prominent artists, critics, curators, and cultural figures on the subjects that Horn incorporates into her practice. Designed by the artist and published by Steidl & Partners, the paired volume of 432 pages is available for $70.00 ($63 for ICA Members) at the ICA Store or www.icastore.org.
Support for this exhibition provided in part by Hauser & Wirth and Jacqueline Bernat and Adam Hetnarski.
Media Sponsor: Boston Globe
Official Hotel Sponsor of the ICA: Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel
Roni Horn in Conversation with John Waters
Wednesday, February 17, 6:30 pm
Roni Horn speaks with her longtime friend, filmmaker John Waters, whose work connects popular culture
with social change. He is also a visual artist and writer who contributed to Horn’s book Wonderwater (Alice
Offshore). The conversation should be simply “divine.” Tickets: $20 members, students and seniors; $25 general admission.
Words from the Walk
Emily Dickinson: A Meditation
Thursday, February 18, 6:30 pm
Emily Dickinson is a major influence on Roni Horn—both poet and artist have used spare language to
explore nature, identity, and cycles of life and death. Horn has also drawn directly from Dickinson’s poetry in
her White Dickinson and Key and Cue series. It is only fitting that the poem featured on the Hassenfeld Harborway this spring is Dickinson’s I’m Nobody! Who Are You?, the first line of which became Key and
Cue No. 288. To mark the occasion, a group of today’s leading poets will gather to celebrate Dickinson’s work and share their own. Gail Mazur, Joyce Peseroff, David Rivard, and Rosanna Warren will join Lloyd Schwartz, Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at UMass Boston, and collaborator on the Words from the Walk Series, bringing poetry to Boston Harbor since 2006. Tickets: Free ICA members, $5 general admission.
Gallery Talk: Dickinson on Dickinson
Sunday, April 11, 2 p.m.
American poet Emily Dickinson has inspired artists across disciplines—Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, not to mention Roni Horn. Celebrate National Poetry Month with a conversation with Cindy Dickinson (no relation), Director of Interpretation and Programming at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. Free with museum admission.
Gallery Talk: Bird is the Word
Sunday, May 9, 2 p.m.
The more we look at Roni Horn’s portraits of taxidermied birds, the more mysterious they seem. Get a fresh perspective from someone who looks closely at birds every day: Scott V. Edwards, whose study of avian DNA has led to insights into the behavior and ecology of birds. Edwards is Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Free with museum admission.
About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for more than 70 years. Like its iconic building on Boston's waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am - 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am - 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm. Admission is $15 adults, $13 seniors and $10 students, and free for members and children 17 and under. ICA Free Admission for Youth is sponsored by State Street Foundation. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5 - 9 pm. Free admission for families at ICA Play Dates (2 adults + children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of the month. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at www.icaboston.org