For the past 30 years, the work of artist Roni Horn has been intimately involved with the distinctive geography, geology, climate, and culture of Iceland. Since her first encounter with the island as a young arts graduate, she has returned to Iceland for extended periods of time every year. Iceland has been both a muse and a medium, as well as a second home, to this most thoughtful and searching of artists.
For some time, Roni Horn cherished an ambition to realise a long-term project in Iceland, which could incorporate many of her abiding artistic concerns – with water and weather, identity and enlightenment. After a lengthy period of research, a long-term installation, VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER, was realised in the small town of Stykkishólmur on the southwest coast of Iceland. The Icelandic word ‘Vatnasafn’ can be translated as ‘Library/Collection/Museum of Water’.
Horn developed the project for the community’s distinctive 1950s library building. Responding to the unique sense of place offered by the building, overlooking the ocean on one side and the harbour and town on the other, Horn envisaged the library as a kind of lighthouse that illuminates, magnifies, and reflects.
Consisting of a number of interconnecting elements, VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER is the artist’s most ambitious project to date. As the inaugural commission in Artangel’s new International Program, it sets a precedent for a small number of unique long-term projects in different parts of the world.
The book VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER explores the various projects that comprise Roni Horn’s longstanding fascination with Iceland through images and written contributions, including texts by Briony Fer, James Lingwood, Adrian Searle and Roni Horn.
It was published jointly by Artangel and Steidl in 2007, and is available through the Steidl website. It was designed by Mark Diaper and Roni Horn.