Roni Horn / Her, Her, Her, and Her

Roni Horn’s Her, Her, Her, and Her is a typological photo series, compiled of images of locker rooms in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The notion of typological photography is not something I ever found particularly appealing or interesting until recently. I felt as though this type of work was naturally suited to observing change, having encountered Jo Spence’s photobook (2005) only a few weeks ago. Her work documents her battle with breast cancer and functioned as my only reference point for what typology consists of. It is not, however, all as morbid as I first thought. I was recommended Roni Horn’s work as a focal point for my own photographic project after my mid-term presentation, and would like to reflect on Her, Her, Her, and Her in this post.

roni-horn-her-her-her-her-002
Image courtesy of https://artphotobook.wordpress.com © 2004 Roni Horn, Steidl Publishers

The layout of Horn’s photobook particularly caught my attention. 120 black-and-white images make up the series, each assigned a full-page at a 1:1 aspect ratio. The lack of interruption between the images creates a consistency which appears to replicate the interior architecture of the Icelandic locker rooms themselves: Horn succeeds in evoking the ‘unbroken continuum’, referenced below, using this simple arrangement.

‘Horn was drawn to the building’s locker rooms, which form a seemingly infinite maze of corridors and compartments with white tiles wrapping around every surface to form a single, unbroken continuum akin to a Möbius strip, and peepholes in the doors that produce an uninterrupted network of views.’

Guggenheim (2007)

I had previously dismissed the fact that layout was something I needed to consider for any more than a few minutes. I felt that, for my own project, I would simply alternate between portrait and landscape shots and arrange the images so as to look aesthetically pleasing with an appropriate amount of negative space in between. However, upon studying Horn’s work, I have readjusted my views on the importance of layout.

The book is also elusive; whether this is purposeful or not I cannot be sure. The lack of any kind of foreword or afterword explaining Horn’s intentions or motivations is notable. In my previous post I reflected on Jiehong’s An Era Without Memories, where the photographs were accompanied by lengthy, contextual narrative. This work is almost the polar opposite to Her, Her, Her, and Her. The lack of explanation facilitates a more attentive focus on the images themselves, since there is simply nothing else to look at: once again, Horn has allowed for absolutely no interruption.

‘Horn often uses repetition to examine the relationship between individual and collective identity. Here, she uses it to create an endless labyrinth of gazes and thwarted desire’

Guggenheim (2007)

Although unsure as to whether I will try and replicate Horn’s arrangements, I have definitely become more aware of the importance of layout when presenting photographs in developing a narrative. I will consider this is my own work, and potentially experiment with typology as a form of photography.

 

Sources Used

Guggenheim, 2007. ‘Roni Horn – Her, Her, Her, and Her’ Collection Online. Available online: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/17547 [Last accessed 29 April 2018]

Horn, R. 2004. Her, Her, Her, and Her. [photobook]. Germany: Steidl Dangin

Spence, J. 2005. Beyond the perfect image: photography, subjectivity, antagonism’  [photobook]. Barcelona: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona.

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