Roni Horn: Island Zombie - Iceland Writings
Princeton University Press, 2023, Softcover, 256 pages, 25 × 17 cm
Contemporary artist Roni Horn first visited Iceland in 1975 at the age of nineteen, and since then, the island’s treeless expanse has had an enduring hold on Horn’s creative work. Through a series of remarkable and poetic reflections, vignettes, episodes, and illustrated essays, Island Zombie distills the artist’s lifelong experience of Iceland’s natural environment. Together, these pieces offer an unforgettable exploration of the indefinable and inescapable force of remote, elemental places, and provide a sustained look at how an island and its atmosphere can take possession of the innermost self.
Island Zombie is a meditation on being present. It vividly conveys Horn’s experiences, from the deeply profound to the joyful and absurd. Through powerful evocations of the changing weather and other natural phenomena—the violence of the wind, the often aggressive birds, the imposing influence of glaciers, and the ubiquitous presence of water in all its variety—we come to understand the author’s abiding need for Iceland, a place uniquely essential to Horn’s creative and spiritual life. The dramatic surroundings provoke examinations of self-sufficiency and isolation, and these ruminations summon a range of cultural companions, including El Greco, Emily Dickinson, Judy Garland, Wallace Stevens, Edgar Allan Poe, William Morris, and Rachel Carson. While brilliantly portraying nature’s sublime energy, Horn also confronts issues of consumption, destruction, and loss, as the industrial and man-made encroach on Icelandic wilderness.
Filled with musings on a secluded region that perpetually encourages a sense of discovery, Island Zombie illuminates a wild and beautiful Iceland that remains essential and new.