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White Dickinson CONFIDENCE IN DAYBREAK MODIFIES DUSK, 2007
aluminum and solid cast white plastic
5.1 x 5.1 x 182.9 cm (2 x 2 x 72 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Department of Modern & Contemporary Art,
Roni Horn's Confidence in Daybreak Modifies Dusk is part of her White Dickinson series. In each of the White Dickinson's a phrase from one of Emily Dickinson's diaries or letters is pulled from its original context, cast in white plastic and embedded in an aluminum bar. The bar is placed directly on the floor and propped against the wall. This offhand presentation places it in the tradition of minimalist sculpture, which often relied on propping as a mode of sculptural presentation that allowed artists to forgo the problem of the base. If Minimalist sculpture sought to strip away all emotional affect in the name of phenomenology then Horn's sculptural practice tends to reinsert affect, albeit through the putatively affect free conceptual art gesture of language. Unlike the dry language of much conceptual art, Horn's longstanding use of Emily Dickinson clearly points to different concerns. In essence, Horn has borrowed the formal rigor of minimalism combined it with the austerity of conceptual art and inflected it with a poetic sensibility, one that tends to hinge on various aspects of identity and structures of feeling (the very things negated by minimalism's recourse to phenomenology). This work finds a special home at the Fogg since Harvard is the repository of all of Emily Dickinson's papers. In this way the work also becomes emblematic of art that begins with the process of research in an archive. Here Horn's appropriation of Dickinson's language serves, potentially, to activate the archive, to transform it from a potentially static collection of fetishised objects and transform it into an engine that helps to make other things. So too this work joins Glenn Ligon's Untitled (Negro Sunshine) as a works that use language, particularly the language of much celebrated feminist or proto-feminist authors, in ways that extend conceptual's art's turn away from the visual, for they are, on the one hand, quite transparent through their use of such clear and concise language and on the other completely mysterious in their evocation of mental images and complex psychological states.
--Helen Molesworth, 2008
--Helen Molesworth, 2008
[Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Switzerland], sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2008.
Re-View: S118 European & American Art since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 04/09/2011