reinforced concrete (detail)
Following the visit to the Caixa Forum in Madrid and the exhibition of Roni Horn
The Caixa Forum is a special building. Caixa is one of the three major Spanish banks. We reach the first floor via a magnificent staircase. A sign outside reads ‘Roni Horn’. The New Yorker Roni Horn (1955) mainly displays photography.
In the series of self-portraits, "You are the weather," from 1996, Roni Horn has a constantly wet head. The artist wanted to capture how she feels when she' comes out of the water, heated, of course. I visited a geyser in Iceland in 2006. There, and also in the hotel, the water smelled of sulphur. I know that I actually looked less sad when I felt the warm water, knowing that it came from deep in the ground. But I had no camera pointed at me and was not concerned with capturing my feelings. If I look at Roni Horn’s self-portraits, I get the impression of someone who knows very well that they are being photographed. I stay longer in a room with large photos of stretches of the Thames, looking at a piece of A1 size text in very small letters in very small print. The eight-point print provides a list of about forty numbers with descriptions of water. Water and love, the colour of the water at a certain area in the picture, a detailed description of a feeling about water or a question what can be found in this water. You are going to make associations and be in deep thought. It takes a while before I suddenly discover for myself the tiny and almost invisible print spreading across the photos. Someone who does not stand like me with my nose up against the pictures will never discover them. In the picture of a rain shower, the numbers are placed where the droplets hit the surface. Below the photographs are hundreds of statements about water. That would be hours of reading. I stare into the Thames. I look at the pictures of the water for a very long time. Roni has reached me. She sets me thinking. At home I remember the water photos. I realise that I could never look so intensely at water as in Roni’s photographs, because the water surface is not flat, it is always moving. Shall I make water? I have got to make water. A bubbling geyser. Just before the outburst of such a geyser, the water becomes choppy. It churns and swells. I want to show that moment, just before the eruption of the twenty meter spout of boiling water. That thrilling moment constantly repeated itself, but it was hard to photograph. The geyser can never be realistic because you are not used to seeing still water, except in photographs. You will always perceive the material, which is concrete terrazzo. As it should be, just as you see the texture of the oil paint, with your nose up against a van Ruysdael seascape.
Close up
Photo 2:Thames water
Photo 3:Roni Horn Water of the Thames Caixa Forum Madrid...
No, it is photoshopped. You see pictures of the river Waal at Heerewaarden