Ragnar Kjartansson | London, England
London Contemporary Music Festival
Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, England
December 3 – December 10, 2017
Ragnar Kjartansson An die Musik (2012) (UK premiere)
LCMF 2017 opens with a provocation. A sculpture in sound. Radically repurposing one of Schubert’s most famous songs, subjecting its melodies to extended repetition and multiplication, acclaimed Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson presents the UK premiere of An die Musik, one of his transformative day-long performance pieces.
Kjartansson’s work is on one level a feat of endurance. On another it’s an alchemical act of making music three-dimensional, of using durational extremes to melt one art form down and reshape it into another.
With the song allowed to swim freely in the acoustics of Ambika P3, Schubert’s prayer to the power of music is transformed into a seven-hour wash of interlocking patterns. The result is reminiscent of Cage’s late number pieces in its playful reliance on chance and careful carelessness.
About the artist
Ragnar Kjartansson engages multiple artistic mediums throughout his performative practice. The artist’s video installations, performances, drawings, and paintings incorporate the history of film, music, visual culture, and literature. His works are connected through their pathos and humor, with each deeply influenced by the comedy and tragedy of classical theater. Kjartansson’s use of durational, repetitive performance to harness collective emotion is a hallmark of his practice and recurs throughout his work.
Kjartansson (b. 1976) lives and works in Reykjavík. The artist has had solo exhibitions at the Reykjavík Art Museum, the Barbican Centre, London, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Washington D.C., the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the New Museum, New York, the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna. Kjartansson participated in The Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale in 2013, Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2014, and he represented Iceland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The artist is the recipient of the 2015 Artes Mundi’s Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award, and Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award.