10 May 2010

Making being here enough

I don't want to read. I don't want to write. I don't want to do anything but be here. Doing something will take me away from being here. I want to make being here enough. Maybe it's already enough. I won't have to invent enough. I'll be here and I won't do anything and this place will be here, but I won't do anything to it. I'll just let it be here. And maybe because I am here and because the me in what's here makes what's here different, maybe that will be enough, maybe that will be what I am after. But I'm not sure. I'm not sure that I'll be able to perceive the difference. How will I perceive it? I need to find a way to make myself absolutely not here but still be able to be here and know the difference. I need to experience the difference between being here and not changing here, and being here and changing here.

Roni Horn
excerpt from "Making Being Here Enough," published in Pooling Waters, 1994*

I recently went to the survey of Roni Horn's work at the ICA Boston. What is immediately apparent is that Horn does not limit herself to any one medium. She moves seamlessly from photography to works on paper to sculptural objects to the written word without losing what is essential. Regardless of medium, her work has an intense focus both inward and outward: of identity and place. She focuses her gaze on elemental changes, the malleability of memory, the perception of time and self.

The Still Water series (1999) was particularly captivating. You loose yourself in a series of seemingly mundane images of the Thames River. Small numerical footnotes are scattered across the images like debris. At the bottom of the image the footnotes engage you in a conversation about music, suicide, color, and the river itself. There are 15 lithographs in all, and when you become overwhelmed by the conversation, you retreat to look around at the images as a whole. They form a subtle spectrum of the surface of the water, changes that would be missed unless you were looking for them.

Roni Horn was.

* The above excerpt from Pooling Waters is actually a journal entry from one of Horn's many trips to Iceland. I nearly overlooked the essay, it was displayed as a page from one of her many artist's books in a smaller gallery. But when I stopped and read the entry, I found myself grateful for Horn's ability to articulate a sentiment I have long felt.

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