Roni Horn b. 1955, New York City
45 inkjet prints (Iris)
22 prints: 20 1/4 x 27 1/4 inches (51.4 x 69.2 cm) each; 13 prints: 20 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches (51.4 x 51.4 cm) each; 10 prints: 20 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches (51.4 x 41.3 cm) each
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director's Council and Executive Committee members: Ann Ames, Edythe Broad, Elaine Terner Cooper, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Harry David, Ulla Dreyfus-Best, Gail Willem Peppler, Tonino Perna, Elizabeth Rea Richebourg, Denise Rich, Simonetta Seragnoli, David Teiger, and Elliot K. Wolk, with additional funds contributed by the Photography Committee, 2001
1998 Roni Horn. Installation view: Roni Horn: Pi, Patrick Painter, Los Angeles, October 24–November 21, 1998. Photo: Douglas M. Parker
Pi was born from a text that Horn wrote on the impossibility of seeing the Arctic Circle and the non-visibility of perfect geometry. This text found form in the seventh installment of Horn's ongoing book series To Place, a volume of photographs taken in northern Iceland. Unobstructed views of the ocean are interspersed with those shot through windows in the home of an elderly couple whose portraits appear throughout the book. They harvest the down from the nests of Eider ducks, and Horn includes images of the feathery nests. Outside influences infiltrate and become part of the continuum. Iceland had only one television station for years, and every afternoon many tuned in to watch the American soap opera, Guiding Light. Stills from this program punctuate the book Arctic Circles, marking the passage of time with the soothing recurrence of the same. Horn sets this mundane drama against the routine life cycles of birds in Iceland. Interspersed among this essay on coexistence are views of a taxidermied white owl. Here it embodies a collision of nature and culture, a haunting interruption in the entropic flow of life and death envisioned in this volume.
For Pi, Arctic Circles migrated from the printed page to demarcate space, forming a frieze around a room. Unlike the sequential nature of a book, Horn's photographic installation promotes a triangulated spatial relationship between part, whole, and self that establishes an architecture of traversals and circumlocution. Every motif occurs at least twice, ideally three times. The seascape images are all split in two, with each half echoing its other somewhere in the room and, according to the artist, sewing this circular work together through memory and movement.