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Roni Horn
Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death

23 March—11 August 2024
Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

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Mu­se­um Lud­wig is pleased to pre­sent Roni Horn: Give Me Para­dox or Give Me Death, a so­lo ex­hi­bi­tion of works by in­flu­en­tial Amer­i­can artist Roni Horn. The ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes over 100 works, span­n­ing from the be­gin­n­ing of the artist’s de­cades long ca­reer to pre­sent day. Roni Horn's oeu­vre in­cludes sculp­ture, pho­tog­ra­phy, draw­ing and artist's books. The ti­tle of the ex­hi­bi­tion goes back to Pa­trick Hen­ry, an out­s­tand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Amer­i­can in­de­pen­dence move­ment in the 18th cen­tu­ry, who end­ed a speech with the fa­mous words: “Give me lib­er­ty, or give me death!” By re­plac­ing lib­er­ty with para­dox, the artist nods to her in­ter­est in the re­c­on­cili­a­tion of two con­tra­dic­to­ry an­sw­ers, an im­por­tant as­pect in her work, which al­so re­lates to her use of dou­bling or pairs.

Up­on en­ter­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion, view­ers are greet­ed by This is Me, This is You (1997-2000), a pho­to­graph­ic work in­s­talled on two op­pos­ing walls. Each wall con­tains 48 framed pho­to­graphs of the artist’s niece, which were tak­en over a two-year pe­ri­od dur­ing her ado­les­cence. Ev­ery pho­to­graph cor­re­sponds with one on the op­pos­ing wall, show­ing sub­tle changes be­tween split se­conds. As she ex­plains in a 1989 in­ter­view, “The pair form, by virtue of the con­di­tion of be­ing dou­ble, ac­tive­ly re­fus­es the pos­si­bil­i­ty of be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced as a thing in it­self.” Here, Horn not on­ly em­ploys dou­bles or pairs, but al­so speaks to iden­ti­ty’s con­s­tant flux.

Yil­maz Dziewior, cu­ra­tor of the ex­hi­bi­tion, com­ments, “Roni Horn be­gan ex­plor­ing fluid rep­re­sen­ta­tions of gen­der long be­fore terms such as gen­derqueer and non­bi­nary en­tered public dis­course. In her (self-)por­traits, you see a per­son who fluc­tu­ates be­tween gen­ders with­out need­ing to find a spe­cif­ic term to de­scribe this mode of be­ing. She shows hu­mans as or­ganisms con­s­tant­ly man­i­fest­ing them­selves in a state of per­pe­t­u­al trans­for­ma­tion. While ex­treme­ly pre­cise and high­ly aes­thet­ic, her ob­jects, pho­to­graphs, and draw­ings have a lib­er­at­ing and eman­ci­pa­to­ry po­ten­tial be­cause they are of­ten in­tan­gi­ble and in­de­fin­able.”

Mov­ing through the ex­hi­bi­tion, view­ers will en­coun­ter nev­er be­fore ex­hibit­ed draw­ings from the late 1970s, in ad­di­tion to a se­lec­tion of pig­ment draw­ings pro­duced be­tween 1983 and 2018. Pho­to­graph­ic works on view in­clude the sem­i­nal work Still Wa­ter (The Riv­er Thames, for Ex­am­ple) (1999), com­prised of 15 pho­to­graphs which act as a por­trait of the Riv­er Thames in South­ern Eng­land; a.k.a. (2008-09), which de­picts the artist at dif­fer­ent mo­ments through­out her life, and Por­trait of an Im­age (with Is­a­belle Hup­pert) (2005-06), where Horn has pho­to­graphed ac­tress Is­a­belle Hup­pert pos­ing as char­ac­ters from her films.

Sculp­tures in the ex­hi­bi­tion in­clude works from the se­ries When Dickin­son Shut Her Eyes (1993-2008), where Horn has re­cre­at­ed po­ems by Emi­ly Dickin­son; Gold Field (1980/1994), a work com­posed of 99.99% gold foil; and Un­ti­tled (“The tini­est piece of mir­ror is al­ways the whole mir­ror.”) (2022), a ten-unit solid cast glass work that re­flects its sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.