VATNASAFN / Library of Water: press coverageThe Times, May 8 2007
The Times, 8 May 2007:
"The Library of Water, or Vatnasafn in Icelandic, is many things at once, but at heart it’s an archive: housed in the old library in Stykkishólmur, it comprises 24 glistening tubes of water that descend from the ceiling like a phalanx of stalactites and contain hundreds of litres of water tapped from the island’s glaciers.
"A pale, khaki-coloured rubber matting covers the floor to provide a ground for them, and incised into it are words in English and Icelandic that might almost describe both people and weather (“foul, torrid, sultry . . .”). It’s a place to document where weather and humanity meet." (Morgan Falconer - read full article)
Modern Painters, May 2007:
"Inlaid in the rubber-tiled floor, whose color is flat, unobtrusive, and somehow just right - somewhere between the lichen that colonizes the rocks and the gooseshit that spatters it - are words, written in a soft round-hand script reminsicent of primary school wall charts and reading primers, but here the letters have been snipped out of rubber. Calm, says the floor, breezy, it states, causally. The words are scattered like fallen leaves. Bad, threatening, clammy. Words in English and Icelandic, words I don't understand. These are weather reports of the emotions. You are the weather, Horns work announces. We report the weather and the weather reports us. The words tell me that I am the weather here, sometimes clammy, frequently cold, occasionally stormy, bad now and then." (Adrian Searle - read full article)
The Daily Telegraph, 25 May 2007:
"Teams of drivers then travelled to the glaciers to hack out samples of ice, which they took back to Stykkishólmur. There, Horn melted the glacial hunks and poured the water into 24 floor-to-ceiling glass columns in the old library. Today the translucent pillars stand in groups around the room, each one a subtly different texture and colour.
"Some are milky, with sediment pooling at the base; others are pale green or soft, dove-egg blue. All refract the rich golden light that comes flooding through the building whenever the snow-heavy clouds recede. In the dark rubber floor, Horn has embedded adjectives describing the weather in both Icelandic and English. Even when the wind rants outside, Vatnasafn has a serenity that recalls the building's former incarnation as a library." (Alastair Sooke - read full article)
The Architects' Journal, 31 May 2007:
"In appearance, the building housing the Library of Water is a 1950s reprise of inter-war Moderne - now spruced up but unremarkable except for its fenstration and position, both of which Horn exploits to the full. It's a library not with stacks on shelves but floor-to-ceiling columns." (Andrew Mead)
Dazed and Confused, June 2007:
"The journey out of Reykjavik is like driving on to the moon. Leaving the Icelandic capital behind, the scenery changes into something raw and savage. Black volcanic mountains cloaked in mist suddenly transform into a desert of frozen snow and ice, before you reach acres of flat black volcanic rocks covered in moss that jut up from the ground. There are no trees in Iceland. There is water everywhere - glacial rivers stream down mountains, chill Arctic oceans lie still. The weather is just as dramatic: hail, mist, snow, rain and gleaming sunshine all hit you within the space of an hour. Stykkishólmur, the location of Roni Horn's latest art project, may only be two and a half hours north of the capital, but it's a whole other world." (Francesca Gavin)
The Independent, 11 July 2007:
"The very title Library of Water is a poetic paradox, and the act - as Horn said on the opening night - of "archiving" this most universal and ungraspable of elements is a bizarre thing.
"But it is also a timely one. Many of the glaciers whose meltwater fills the columns in the Library are threatened, and most probably doomed, their futures measured in years rather than decades (the beautiful Snaefellsjokull is one). Climate change is not the subject of the work, but it is a topic that it ineluctably dramatises.
"The meaning of the piece is wider and deeper. Water is one of the metaphors that run through Horn's work. One of her more appealing earlier projects, in 1999, was Still Water (The River Thames, for Example). This consisted of high-quality close-up photographs of the surface of the surface of the stream, with various ripples, eddies and flecks of foam footnoted with fluid thoughts - a reference to Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, say, or a question such as: "What does water look like?". The point is that water is finally unknowable, like - well, like ourselves." (Martin Gayford)
Frieze, July - August 2007:
Horn's idea in many ways simply extends the notion of what a library is: a place of reflection, cataloguing, community activity and learning; book readings, meetings about environmental issues, yoga, music classes and women's chess sessions. As Horn put it, she wants it to be 'a lighthouse in which the viewer becomes the light.'" (Jennifer Higgie - read full article)