Ragnar Kjartansson: Song
Knight Exhibition Series
MAY 17 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2012
Ragnar Kjartansson: Song is the first solo US museum exhibition of the work of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. A musician as well as artist, Kjartansson (b. 1976) has been drawn to the theater and performance since he formed a band in his teenage years. The exhibition includes a selection of video works from the last decade. Kjartansson’s videos reflect an interest in music and theater and the personae of its performers, often coupled with extreme environments. The End (2008) features two musicians in a mountainous snowy landscape, while Satan is Real (2005) finds the naked artist buried to his chest in the lawn of a public park, playing a guitar.
In addition to his video work, Kjartansson has become known for inhabiting galleries and more unexpected locations where he performs live, often for extended periods. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, he painted portraits of his friend, every day for six months, in a crumbling palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal. Kjartansson’s approach wavers between besotted optimism and deadpan, sometimes unnerving, directness. Ritual, repetition, and an almost hallucinogenic reverie share the stage with humor, levity, and a charismatic impulse to entertain. The exhibition is organized by Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and is curated by Associate Curator Dan Byers.