RONI HORN was born New York in 1955. Initially influenced by minimalism and supported by Donald Judd, she eventually distanced herself from the movement with personal explorations focused on the themes of time and identity.
In Horn’s artistic practice, identity – individual or geographical – is not a fixed and monolithic concept but is multifaceted and changeable, finding an echo in the diversity of practices and media she adopts in her work: drawings, books, photographic installations, sculptures and many more. This dimension of multiplicity, of mutability, results in works that seek to shape the process of becoming, as shown by the artworks inspired by the Icelandic landscape. She sees the significance of her works as enhanced by the viewer’s presence.
Well and Truly (2009-2010) plays on the different meanings of “well.” It is made out of glass blocks evoking petrified well water: the sides are translucent and the corners ridged, having adhered directly to the mold during casting, while the upper surface, which has been in contact with the air, is glossy and reflective so as to seem liquid. Depending on the ambient light and the observer’s position, they can appear surprisingly transparent or dramatically sparkling, with a virtually endless number of subtle color variations. Well and Truly contradicts the connotation of certainty conveyed by the phrase’s primary meaning. Firstly it refers to water, a symbol of changeability, ambiguity and an uncertain identity, omnipresent in Roni Horn’s work. “Watching the water,” says the artist, “I am stricken with vertigo of meaning. Water is the final conjugation: an infinity of forms, relations and contents.” Then it evokes literature, another essential aspect of her work (the poems of Emily Dickinson are the source for many of her sculptures), and in particular Radclyffe Hall’s novel The Well of Loneliness (1928), a landmark in gay culture. Finally, by undermining all certainty about its solid or liquid nature, it produces a true physical experience in the viewer.
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