Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death

Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death

Museum Ludwig, Cologne

View of Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give me Death, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2024. Untitled (“The tiniest piece of mirror is always the whole mirror.”), 2022; Portrait of an Image (with Isabelle Huppert), 2005–2006. © Roni Horn. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne/Vincent Quack.

March 21, 2024
Roni Horn
Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death
March 23–August 11, 2024
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Museum Ludwig, Cologne
50667 Cologne
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Museum Ludwig is pleased to present Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death, a solo exhibition of works by influential American artist Roni Horn. The exhibition includes over 100 works, spanning from the beginning of the artist’s decades long career to present day. 

Roni Horn’s work spans from photography to drawing, artist books, sculpture, and installation. Behind this openness lies the artist’s understanding that everything in the world is mutable and cannot be subjected to fixed attribution. The exhibition at the Museum Ludwig examines this idea through three recurring themes in Horn’s work: nature, identity, and language.

The title of the exhibition is derived from a quote by Patrick Henry, an advocate for American independence in the eighteenth century, who concluded a speech with the words, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Roni Horn is more interested in the visual power of the quote than its original context; in her adaptation of the structure of Henry’s famous exclamation, she substitutes the word “paradox” for “liberty”, thus equating the meanings of both terms. For Horn, paradoxes are a way to access ambiguity, a quality in which things may contain their opposites.

Yilmaz Dziewior, Director of the Museum Ludwig, comments, “Roni Horn began exploring fluid representations of gender long before terms such as genderqueer and nonbinary entered public discourse. In her (self-)portraits, you see a person who fluctuates between genders without needing to find a specific term to describe this mode of being. She shows humans as organisms constantly manifesting themselves in a state of perpetual transformation. While extremely precise and highly aesthetic, her objects, photographs, and drawings have a liberating and emancipatory potential because they are often intangible and indefinable.”

Moving through the exhibition, viewers will encounter never before exhibited drawings from the late 1970s, in addition to a selection of pigment drawings produced between 1983 and 2018. 

Photographic works on view include the seminal work Still Water (The River Thames, for Example) (1999), comprised of 15 photographs which act as a portrait of the River Thames in Southern England; a.k.a. (2008–09), which depicts the artist at different moments throughout her life, and Portrait of an Image (with Isabelle Huppert) (2005–06), where Horn has photographed actress Isabelle Huppert posing as characters from her films. 

Sculptures in the exhibition include works from the series When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes (1993–2008), where Horn has recreated poems by Emily Dickinson; Gold Field (1980/94), a work composed of 99.99% gold foil; and Untitled (“The tiniest piece of mirror is always the whole mirror.”) (2022), a ten-unit solid cast glass work that reflects its surrounding environment. 

About Roni Horn
Roni Horn was born in New York in 1955. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975. In 1978, Horn graduated with a master’s degree in sculpture from Yale University. Her oeuvre focuses on conceptually oriented photography, sculpture, drawing, and books. Since 1975, Horn has traveled extensively in the more remote landscapes of Iceland. These solitary experiences have long been important influences in her life and work. Literature and Horn’s prodigious reading have had a similarly profound impact on her work across various media. 

Recent solo exhibitions include: Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; Fundació Joan Miro, Barcelona; De Pont Foundation, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland; Glenstone Museum, Potomac, MD; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX; Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan; Bourse de Commerce—Pinault Collection, Paris; Winsing Arts Foundation, Taipei; Centro Botín, Santander; He Art Museum, Guangdong, China. This year, in addition to the exhibition at Museum Ludwig, Horn will have a major solo show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark.

Curator: Yilmaz Dziewior
Curatorial Assistants: Kerstin Renerig, Leonore Spemann

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue Roni Horn: Give Me Paradox or Give Me Death, ed. by Yilmaz Dziewior; with text contributions by Yilmaz Dziewior, Zoë Lescaze, Andrew Maerkle, Isabel de Naverán, and Kerstin Stakemeier; German/English. Hardcover, 312 pages, 21.5 × 27.5 cm, approx. 180 col. ill., Steidl Verlag, ISBN 978-3-96999-379-8, EUR 38.

Thanks to
The exhibition is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is also generously supported by the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation. The REWE Group and Russmedia are sponsoring it as Superior Partners. Additionally, the exhibition is generously supported by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig e.V., Hauser & Wirth, the Glenstone Foundation, the Kukje Art and Culture Foundation and the Galleria Raffaella Cortese with Marco Rossi & Enea Righi, as well as Xavier Hufkens. The exhibition is an official program partner of the NRW-USA Year of the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia. We would like to thank the Museum Ludwig’s innovation partner RIMOWA. The media partner of the exhibition is Arte.

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Museum Ludwig, Cologne
March 21, 2024

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