Roni Horn’s Ashpere (1988–1990) represents one of a series of similar sculptures executed by the artist in different materials. Although she did not deliberately craft the works for this purpose, Horn found that she gradually came to recognize herself in the aspherical shapes, which cannot easily be categorized. They operate as self-portraits that resist the description of personal identity and gender within traditional frameworks. As she explains: “When I look at it I see that it has characteristics that I identify with very strongly. One of those qualities is that it’s not a sphere, and it’s nothing else. I can relate to that. . . . It doesn’t have a name or a word that closes it off from things.” Elsewhere, the artist reflects: “It is an homage to androgyny. It gives the experience of something initially familiar but the more time spent with it, the less familiar it becomes. I think of it as a self-portrait.”
Image rights: Artwork © Roni Horn; Photograph © 2015, Museum of Fine Arts Boston
"This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today"
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, gift of the artist, Charlene Engelhard Troy, and an Anonymous Donor
About Roni Horn
“The unknown is where I want to be,” says Roni Horn, an artist celebrated for her cerebral, wide-ranging body of work in which she explores mutability—of identity and gender, natural landscapes and phenomena, language and meaning. Grounded in Minimalism and shaped by language, Horn’s sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, books, and installations reveal the subtle, moment-by-moment shifts in an expression, nature, or the meaning of words on a page. In Becoming a Landscape (1999-2001) and Still Water (The River Thames, for Example) (1999), she presents a series of photographs of the Icelandic landscape and of the Thames, respectively, that convey their state of unending change. In addition to Iceland and water, Horn focuses on Emily Dickinson’s poetry and her own androgyny. In a.k.a. (2008), she documents the mutability of her identity—at one the wellspring for all of her work the lens through which she views the world.
American, b. 1955, New York, New York, based in New York, New York