The Visitors at UB Art Gallery, Buffalo
“The Visitors,” Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s seminal, nine-channel video work, will be on view Feb. 25 through May 14 in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.
The video installation will open with a reception from 5-8 p.m. Feb. 25 in the gallery.
“The Visitors” was created in 2012 at Rockeby Farm, a rambling, slightly decrepit mansion in upstate New York dating back to 1815. Kjartansson and seven friends positioned themselves throughout the home — in the library, kitchen, parlors and bedrooms. Kjartansson soaks in the bathtub, guitar in hand.
Rockeby Farm is located in the Hudson Valley, where the famed Hudson River School painters made their mark, and each of the nine projected scenes are themselves reminiscent of a painting — full of rich and lushly distressed surroundings.
Connected through headphones in order to hear each other, the performers sing lyrics written by Kjartannson’s ex-wife, artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir. Simple poetic phrases are repeated with fervor: “Once again…I fall into…my feminine ways” and mixed with “There are stars exploding around you and there’s nothing you can do.” The end result is a 64-minute music video shot in a single take.
While the title of the work references famed Swedish pop group ABBA’s 1981 album — written at a time when there was a breakdown in the group and the lead members divorced — “The Visitors” showcases the individual as a member of a group: One cannot exist without the other.
And while the musicians are in their own rooms within the sprawling mansion, they are ever present, playing instruments relentlessly, belting out lyrics and, in the end, enjoying the celebration as they leave the house and drift into the landscape, the song lingering as the screens go black.
The installation in the UB Art Gallery will feature nine 12×7 screens. The 64-minute video is on a loop and visitors can watch from different angles.
Kjartansson’s work has been influenced continually by his background growing up in a family of actors and stage performers: According to folklore, he was conceived on the set of the 1977 Icelandic film “Morðsaga” (Murder Story).
Regularly drawing from stage traditions, Kjartanasson often combines elements of performance, theater, music and visual art within his art practice. With the intersection of these elements, he explores the nature of relationships, including those between mother and son, friends, lovers and siblings, and usually incorporates family and friends, artists, musicians and other creative individuals into the cast.
While touching on lightheartedness, a more serious tone arises as he explores the boundary between fiction and reality. Employing concepts related to myth, history and identity, much of Kjartansson’s work makes art historical references while also nodding to religious/spiritual ceremonies that highlight repetition as a space for meditation and contemplation. Often, a repeated stanza or phrase becomes a transcendent mantra.
In conjunction with “The Visitors,” the UB Art Galleries will present two public programs. The opening of the installation will showcase a new work in the Lightwell Gallery performed by dance student Deja Stevens and choreographed by Jeanne Fornarola, clinical associate professor and director of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance. The work relates to Kjartansson’s ideas of repetition utilizing Sam Falls’ sculpture “Untitled” (Thermochromic Bench) located in the gallery.
On April 20, the UB Art Galleries, in collaboration with Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, will present a special screening titled “The Moon Returns at Dawn.” Curated by Ekrem Serdar, Squeaky Wheel’s media arts curator, the hour-long screening will feature works by filmmakers employing similar motivations in their work as Kjartansson does in “The Visitors.”
The screening will start at 7 p.m. in 112 CFA. On that evening, the gallery, which usually closes at 5 p.m., will remain open until the screening begins.
Opening concurrently with “The Visitors” will be “Eleven,” an exhibition by first-year MFA students in the Second Floor Gallery. Artists include Morgan Arnett, Jenna Curran, Natalie Dilenno, Joseph Frank, Erik Miller, Bethany Moody, Javier Sanchez, Rachel Shelton, Mijin Shin, James Simpson and Van Tran Nguyen.
The exhibition will run through March 26.
The UB Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday.
Admission is free.
– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/stories.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2016/02/visitors.detail.html#sthash.nsmHEBJL.dpuf