Roni Horn's Icelandic Encyclopedia - Tate Research Repository
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Book chapter

Roni Horn's Icelandic Encyclopedia

2011

Abstract

Since 1990, the American artist Roni Horn has published nine volumes of a book project titled To Place which she calls an ‘Icelandic Encyclopaedia’. The books include over 400 photographs. In this paper, I contextualize the project in the history of post‐conceptual photographic practices and artists' books. I argue that Horn uses the form of the archive and encyclopedia to undo rather than cement categories and definitions, by constantly shifting the mode of presentation from volume to volume. I look at the way in which genres of portraiture and landscape become one another, and at Horn's treatment of the book form. The essay argues that Iceland has a paradoxical attraction for Horn: it is a place of ‘becoming’, whose geological identity is mutable, and it is a landscape which allows her to feel centred. These two meanings are communicated through the ways in which photographs are presented to the viewer/reader of the To Place books.

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