27 JUNE – 23 AUGUST 2015

Here’s what happened: You meet someone and play them your current favourite song, only to find out that it’s their favourite, too. Yes! Then you listen to it forever – or at least for six hours. If you don’t just have a weakness for pop music, but also for melancholy, and if you’re also a visual artist called Ragnar Kjartansson, then you might ask the band (in this case, The National), whether they would like to play the song (in this case, Sorrow) in New York’s MoMA PS1 non-stop for six consecutive hours – and then you make a film about the whole thing. This is the impact of these six hours: Exhaustion sets in, the song begins to change under the weight of time and the musicians begin to experiment cautiously. There are clashes and friction between pathos and irony, trance-like states set in and break off until a new, collective experience between emotion and reflection, of presence and duration becomes possible. And if you prefer, you could also simply hear and see a literally wonderful concert.

© Image Roman März

On view downstairs, under the repeated rhythms of Sorrow, Kjartansson’s most recent series of paintings is on show. DIE NACHT DER HOCHZEIT, watercolours of dark starry skies, and A LOT OF SORROW are both comprised of ever-varying repetitions of the same subject. Painting and drawing is an essential part of Kjartansson’s practice, despite being best known for his large-scale durational performances and video works. These include a twelve-hour performance of the last aria of Mozart’s Wedding of Figaro and a six-month performance of a new painting every day of a young male model in a palazzo on the Canal Grande at the Venice Biennial. In his paintings and drawings, Kjartansson employs the performative, often repeating the same subject en pleine air, luring out a soothing melancholia of longing and loss. Previous series include Raging Pornographic Sea, countless drawings of the sea he did with his father, and Reflections from Room 413, five painted self-portraits from 24 hours spent in a hotel room.

© Image Roman März



Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976 in Reykjavík, Iceland) is a performance artist, sculptor, painter, and musician living in Reykjavík. He studied at the Icelandic Academy of Arts and at the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. Kjartansson's art draws on traditions of film, music, theater, visual culture, and literature, which can be found in his video installations, long-term performances, drawings, and paintings. Repetition, variation, and looping serve as his artistic strategy, with reality and fiction merging fluidly.

Kjartansson exhibits in major museums and galleries worldwide and represented Iceland at the 53rd Venice Biennale ...
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