Roni Horn is currently exhibiting her photographic series of taxidermied Icelandic wildfowl at Hauser and Wirth Colnaghi in London. The artist attended the Rhode Island School of Design and received her M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art in 1978. After completing graduate school, Horn journeyed to Iceland to explore the geological activity that takes place in a location virtually untouched by globalization forces. She has since made several Icelandic adventures, and continued to photograph the wildfowl for this long-running series. The artist has had several solo exhibitions, including those at Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and Kunstmuseum Winterthur in Winterthur, Switzerland. The manifestation of Horn’s work takes various forms, including works on paper, installations, books with her own images and text, and photographs. She has openly attributed her lack of media specificity to “growing up androgynous,” which prevented her from associating with any singular gender identity.
For the exhibition, Horn photographed the backs of wildfowl at close range against a monochromatic background, in the style of a conventional studio portrait. She presented these in doubles, a powerful conceptual and aesthetic tactic. The images of the bird’s melanistic markings are curious, much like the stuffed birds they represent, questioning the strange art of preparing and preserving the skins of dead animals. The accurate imaging of the bird’s fascinatingly mundane physiognomies points to our rather limited knowledge of life. The quizzical nature surrounding her work is an attempt to make the viewer responsible for their presence, and to create a more direct experience. As the artist herself states, “I want to make sensible experience more present.”