Roni Horn bird (Detail), 1998/2008, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth., © Roni Horn
Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death
Mar 23 – Aug 11, 2024
Museum Ludwig
Köln, Germany

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 work spans from pho­tog­ra­phy to draw­ing, artist books, sculp­ture, and in­s­tal­la­tion. Be­hind this open­ness lies the artist’s un­der­s­tand­ing that ev­ery­thing in the world is mutable and can­not be sub­ject­ed to fixed at­tri­bu­tion. The ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig ex­amines this idea through three re­cur­ring themes in Horn’s work: na­ture, iden­ti­ty, and lan­guage.

The ti­tle of the ex­hi­bi­tion is de­rived from a quote by Pa­trick Hen­ry, an ad­vo­cate for Amer­i­can in­de­pen­dence in the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, who con­clud­ed a speech with the words, “Give me lib­er­ty or give me death!” Roni Horn is more in­ter­est­ed in the vi­su­al pow­er of the quote than its orig­i­nal con­text; in her adap­ta­tion of the struc­ture of Hen­ry’s fa­mous ex­cla­ma­tion, she sub­sti­tutes the word “para­dox” for “lib­er­ty”, thus equ­at­ing the mean­ings of both terms. For Horn, para­dox­es are a way to ac­cess am­bi­gu­i­ty, a qual­i­ty in which things may con­tain their op­po­sites.

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.”

[ . . . ]

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.

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