New York – Roni Horn: “Everything was sleeping as if the universe were a mistake” at Hauser and Wirth Through January 11th, 2014

December 23rd, 2013

Roni Horn, Untitled ("My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the...)(detail) (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed
Roni Horn, Untitled (“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the…)(detail) (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed

The glass globules dotting the floor of Roni Horn’s current exhibition at Hauser and Wirth give off a remarkable sense of tension: frosted exteriors play off against the the crystal-clear center of the pieces, giving off an illusion of liquid depth, ready to overflow its container.  Rather than staring at a solid object, one struggles to remember that these are not, in fact, vessels in the traditional sense, but enormous glass molds, poured and cooled over the course of several years.  If they are vessels, the fluid material of it holds is that of light, flowing with the passage of the sun, and the gradual progression of time that it implies.

Roni Horn, Untitled ("A dream dreamt in a dreaming world is not really a dream...but a dream not dreamt is.") (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed
Roni Horn, Untitled (“A dream dreamt in a dreaming world is not really a dream…but a dream not dreamt is.”) (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed

This sense of time, both as process and subject, is a recurring theme in Horn’s work.  Her sculptures, through their delicate reflections, mark the light of the gallery as it trails across the surface of the work, changing the luminescence of the piece and its surrounding space slightly and gradually with the position of the sun.  Taking full advantage of the gallery’s skylights at its enormous 18th Street space, the interior lights are shut off, allowing the autumn sun to pass over the works.  The mellow curvatures of Horn’s sculptures twist the reflections into snaking, quickly shifting patterns, appearing and receding with a slight twist of the head.

Roni Horn, Put 3 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth
Roni Horn, Put 3 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth

Separating the two sets of sculptures are a series of framed drawings, embracing a similar approach to light and form.  Horn’s patchwork pieces break the reflected light into a series of hues and shades, playing in equal measure off the light itself, and the reflections of passerby as they move through the space.  The result is a delicate series of mirror effects, rewarding a lingering contemplation with a nuanced awareness of the passage of time through an experience of space.

Roni Horn, Untitled ("My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the...) (2013), via Hauser and Wirth
Roni Horn, Untitled (“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the…) (2013), via Hauser and Wirth

Perhaps the most intriguing facet of the exhibition is the subtle balance between Horn’s materials and concepts.  While her works are notably substantive (at the opening one gallery attendant remarked that each of the sculptures weighed around 1,700 lbs.), the fluxes of time and space that they express liberate them from a sustained examination of their physical presence.  True to form, even as the viewer contemplates the fluid reflections cast off the surface of the work, it’s difficult to resist a peer into the bottom of the glass.

Horn’s work will be on view at the gallery through January 11th.

Roni Horn, But 2 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth
Roni Horn, But 2 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth

Roni Horn, Untitled ("A dream dreamt in a dreaming world is not really a dream...but a dream not dreamt is.") (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed
Roni Horn, Untitled (“A dream dreamt in a dreaming world is not really a dream…but a dream not dreamt is.”) (detail) (2013), via Daniel Creahan for Art Observed

Roni Horn, Put 1 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth
Roni Horn, Put 1 (2013), via Hauser and Wirth

—D. Creahan

Read more:
Hauser and Wirth [Exhibition Site]