When Horn makes self-portraits, they are studiedly unrevealing – ‘self-portraiture in a generic form, a for-instance,’ she says.

Pink Tons (2009) is a cast-glass sculpture. Look at the work, and words to describe it will probably come quickly to mind. The first is ‘cube’, although Pink Tons isn’t actually cubic, or not quite. It is 10cm shorter than it is wide and deep, making it technically a cuboid. Then there is the word ‘Minimalism’, Horn’s four-square(-ish) sculpture appearing to be of a piece with Judd’s metal boxes or Carl Andre’s firebricks. To see Pink Tons as Minimalist, though, is, says Horn, ‘just wrong’. How so? It’s all in the name. Minimalism has always been boy territory: Judd, Andre, Serra, Flavin, LeWitt et cetera, are Minimalists. Pink, on the other hand, is girl territory, as is the fragility of glass. The second half of the work’s title is undeniably macho, though: tons are the kind of things Richard Serras are measured in, and Serras are very, very un-pink. But then again, Horn’s glass cuboid also weighs in at five tonnes. So here is an object that shouts ‘female’ and ‘male’ at the same time and equally quietly – a piece of transgender art, masculine and feminine, massive and breakable, transparent on top and opaque at the sides. The Tate’s new piece is, perhaps, a more telling self-portrait of Roni Horn than are her alleged self-portraits. Back in 1988, when she cast the twin copper cones of Pair Object VII, duality lay in making two of things. Now, she has found a way to distil duality into single objects such as Pink Tons. With that distilling, that concentration, has come a new intensity in Horn’s art.


The artist.

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