Bowes Art & Architecture Library
To Place: Roni Horn's Iceland
To Place, by the visual artist Roni Horn, is a series of ten titles focused upon Iceland and Horn’s relationship to it. It is an open series with no pre-determined end point, and while the set constitutes what Horn describes as an encyclopedia, the subjects treated and the flow from one volume to the next are idiosyncratic rather than systematic. The “to” in the title activates “place” into a verb rather than a noun; the progression of the books suggests the artist’s evolving process of placing herself in the place that is Iceland, the artist and the volcanic geology of Iceland both perpetually becoming.
Horn exhibits her work primarily in galleries and museums, yet for this project the book form was a natural choice. It is intimate: the viewer can touch it and interact with it. It is austere yet opulent, the embossed black covers and the lushly colored interiors echoing the aesthetic extremes of the Icelandic landscape. And it is immersive: books invite contemplation, and the series itself continues to grow around its theme.
This exhibition brings together all of the books in the series, in multiple copies and in deluxe editions as available. While the subject of each book, at least on a superficial level, is easily discernable simply by looking at the images and the title, its role in this larger project of placing can be hazy and sometimes abstract. It is helpful, then, to remember Horn’s own words: “In To Place, the viewer is me and the view is Iceland. This reciprocity is key to this body of work. Each volume is a dialogue spun directly out of this interchange.”
Curated by Anna Fishaut