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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roni Horn: The Library of Water



My first experience of Roni Horn’s work was through her books of photographs and drawings and writings made in Iceland. And my first experience of Iceland was through these books.

I came across the first of these books in 1994. Pooling Waters has two companion volumes, one with a sequence of photographs of hot pots and swimming pools from around the island, and the other an extensive collection of writings inspired by the artist’s experiences in different parts of Iceland. Then I found a copy of Verne’s Journey, published a year later. The book begins with aerial photographs of a glacier, Snæfelsjökull, where Verne’s travellers began their journey to the centre of the earth, and eventually immerses the reader in the fury of a maelstrom.

The books are part of an ongoing work, sometimes called an encyclopedia, To Place. Each successive volume has the same cloth binding, embossed with the name of the place and the name of the artist:

Ísland . Roni Horn

The books bring proximity to a distant place. They convey the quiet intensity and subtle energies of a long communion between an elemental island and a singular and passionate mind. They have something of the quality of a secular devotional, made by someone deeply committed to the uniqueness of the island, its geography and geology, climate and culture. They embody a relationship to the place that is both intimate and selfless – the very same qualities that lie at the heart of Roni Horn’s approach to VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER.

VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER by Roni Horn, Stykkishólmur, Iceland


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