"Be where you are when you're there" Roni Horn

Roni HORN a.k.a., 2008 2009 (non encadré/unframed)
Close Roni HORN a.k.a., 2008 2009 (non encadré/unframed)
June 29, 2022

"Be where you are when you're there" Roni Horn

Reading time
8 mn
By Roni Horn,

Your works and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ works continue a long standing dialogue through this exhibition. What inspires this new conversation?

I see it more as two very... not similar... sympathetic sensibilities, just working parallel with each other and intermingling occasionally. It's more like a flow than it is a choice because the common interests  are much more subterranean. They're much deeper than "Oh, they both used pairing forms" or "They both had this relationship to homosexual". I think there's a bigger sensibility  that is pervasive in the work, and this is an opportunity here with Caroline at the Pinault Collection. The scale is big enough that you can get the complexity of it and the reality of it. There's no dialog.  It's just the two of us standing in close proximity and having a very sympathetic interaction through the end of his life.

How did you play with this gallery at the Bourse de Commerce? How did you choose not to use light?

I chosed it long time ago. No light, that's the rule. Either the sun is out or it's not. In general, with my work, ambient light is always better. But in this case, if I take Felix as ambient light, I can work it into my idea. And I feel really quite strongly
that "For Stockholm" is a really satisfying visual experience because of luminosity and the way that works, “For Stockholm” moves in and out of object and event illumination throughout everything in the show. So it's a kind of sunlight in that it's pervasive. Yeah, it's the weather. “For Stockholm” is the weather of the show. 


Is there a Felix Gonzalez-Torres work you want to share most particularly with the visitors?

Well, “For Stockholm” is probably  the one for me right now, in that show, that's shown created this, let's say, unspoken intimacy that's always existed. It's presented it. The cat's out of the bag. It's not a secret  anymore, you know, kind of feeling. And it's not really
to be described with words. The other works, I have to say... Felix looks... He has a way of looking unbelievably good with himself, like the “Loverboys” curtains and then the lights and something new everywhere and every juxtaposition. So you never see a lot of Felix's work, but he's one artist that you never see too much of.


“Well and Truly” is a major work of yours. It has left its mark in the exhibition history of Punta della Dogana. Can you tell us more about it and its new situation in the gallery in the Bourse de Commerce?

They're like drawings, every time I install it, it's a drawing for me and it's a drawing in active dialog with this particular location and fortunately, Pinault has offered me really nice architectural settings to have some really interesting dynamics going and get them going. The contrary to what I was brought up on, which was the "White Cube", it's really the worst possible environment  for my work, for my sculpture. It's okay for photography or drawing, but for the sculpture, it destroys it, really oversimplifies it. It destroys the nuance in it, which is all very much in the sense of place it creates its relationship to the atmosphere, to light, to the architecture, to the history, to the traffic moving through. All of those things are very much at play and none of them are really terribly visible. So you really have to use everything,  especially architecturally,  to leverage the experience of the work in a sense. So every time I'm going to show it, it's going to be quite different. I mean, it does interact with the ambient setting like a landscape. That's just the reality of the way the light works in a solid mass like that. And I've been really lucky with this work. I've never had to show this work in a gallery because it's just the opposite of what I would. 


What about the curve of the gallery?

And in general, galleries have never been an optimal space for me to present something. Oh, that's just an organic complexity  that you can create a different balance in the experience. So you can in a way, not a narrative,  but you can open the chronology up and the duration up  by not letting everything happen at once. So as you come into the gallery,  something is revealed and as you go further  in, more is revealed. So it's not all right there the minute you walk in.


Do you try to capture the elusive nature of things, and is this something Felix Gonzalez-Torres tried to do as well?

I wouldn't say it that way because the capture elusiveness is a problem. It's a mistake because elusiveness  should be allowed to elude. So that's part of the way you would, I think, grasp it by experiencing that less graspable thing. You know what I'm saying? So it doesn't... you don't stop it, but you kind of maybe slow it down or something, give it real time in a sense of... And this is what a show could do for somebody experientially, because that's where our work (and I don't want to speak for Felix). In the commonalities is the experiential, which sounds very easy to say, but not all experiences are the same in terms of the quality and the intelligence, what is what is at play around you. But contemporary society is moving in a direction very much away from the actual because it's destroyed most of it. So part of the problem is just simply the loss of nature. And it's a problem that's too big in a way, but it affects everything and it's affecting the reading on that show, in my opinion, because what people I think are responding  to is their presence being acknowledged in a fundamental, visceral way.


Do you have any advice to visitors as they discover this show?

 What state of mind would you advise the viewer to adopt?

For me, the thing that I kind of always feel strongly about is to be where you are when you're there. And that's not easy to do and it's getting harder and harder. So that's the main thing. And the other thing is just playfulness, which leaves you open to humor and unreasonable facts and presentations, gives you easier access to a larger world. Those are the two things, attention and playfulness.