Ragnar Kjartansson | Volksbuehne, Berlin
Premieres 6 April, 2017
At 7.00 pm a scene begins in a salon, at an early dinner party in the better part of a city, somewhere in the world. Three people meet, dialogues fall, cocktails, cuttings, piano music and all this again and again, far beyond infinity … Where would we be without the repetition? Let us think of the course of the sun alone, the change of seasons, Or the recurring morning toilet? Repetition is one of the most important techniques of reducing and is used in art, music, religion, science and common everyday life. It is the basic tool of man to give spirituality, substance and weight to the things. The repetition results in patterns which can either arise according to an exactly defined plan or else by chance. In the latter the final result is not directly foreseeable … And also in the theater: rehearsals and reproductions, sometimes more or less accurate. And to each performance and reproduction, the sublime consciousness of the audience is added to a repetitive moment. Although? Let us recall Strasberg and Stanislavsky, they despair of it: How can the actor in each repetition produce the same deep feelings, the “illusion of the first time”? Kierkegaard was already the transcendence of the always the same, and he took the paradoxical argument, the repeated refutation of repetition, as proof against its occurrence. And Anne Carson, born in 1950 in Toronto, professor of ancient Greek, translator and one of the great contemporary lyricists, wrote a play exclusively for the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson.
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 recently presented a survey exhibition at the Barbican Centre, London, which traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Washington, D.C. Kjartansson has also had major solo exhibitions at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the New Museum, New York, the Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst in Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna. Song, his first American solo museum show, was organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2011, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. 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.