Roni Horn: The tiniest piece of mirror is always the whole mirror
- Talitha Kotzé
- 11 June 2009
The Common Guild, Glasgow, until Sat 4 Jul
Internationally renowned New York artist Roni Horn exhibits samplings from her oeuvre spanning three decades. Most of Horn’s exhibitions are site-dependent, and this selection too responds to the specifics of the venue. With her tendency to favour natural light, the high ceilings and large windows at number 21 Woodlands Terrace provide contextual prompts. But on a rare hot summer’s day in Glasgow, the beautiful interiors and the view from the second floor battle determinedly for your attention. The work, however, is strong enough to draw you back into the room.
For ‘Portrait of an image’, Horn asked the actress Isabelle Huppert to impersonate herself in her various film roles. The outcome is a collection of portrait photographs capturing the changing lines, contours, crevices and skin tones of an unsettled facial landscape. The act of drawing is employed here in much the same way as in the ‘Clownpout’ series where photographic manipulation blurs a distinctive ‘clowness’ into liquid reds, whites and pinks. The most tactile manifestation of drawn images is found in a group of silkscreens where paper is meticulously printed, cut and reassembled.
The connection between drawing and writing is evident when noting how text serves as an important aspect of Horn’s practice. She has described her relationship to her work as extremely verbal: ‘I am probably more language-based than I am visual, and I move through language to arrive at the visual.’ Hence the consistent use of drawing as both a practical and analytical device.
‘Gold Field’ is the result of Horn’s proclaimed desire for a closer relationship to the sun. This work consists of a thin sheet of pure gold. Slightly folded and crumpled it reflects gold light in upon itself, flickering, wavering particles of light taking on a life of its own and sketching shapes in shades of shiny gold.
Horn’s distinctive framing of the fine line between sameness and difference, through her modus operandi of pairing and doubling, are evident throughout the show. Her works are subtle, as if crafted with small pointed fingers through which knowledge flows in eloquent conceptual and physical dexterity.