Exhibition Details

Location: Anderman, Marcus, and Marley Galleries
Dates: November 3, 2018
to April 14, 2019


Phoenix Art Museum presents the Southwestern US premiere of work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976) in Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths. From November 3, 2018, through April 14, 2019, in the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Wing for Modern Art, guests can experience three multisensory works by the artist that explore themes of identity, melancholia, repetition, and popular culture. Known for the performative aspects of his art, Kjartansson has displayed his works in renowned museums around the world, including the Migros Museum in Switzerland, The Guggenheim in New York City, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Phoenix Art Museum becomes one of only ten American museums to welcome the addition of The Visitors to their collection.
Kjartansson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland. Growing up, his mother was an actress and his father was a director and playwright. This theater-centric upbringing would later inform his artistic practice as he experimented with durational and repetitive performance pieces, attempting to discover new meaning in the simplest of words and actions through reiteration and time progression.
The exhibition showcases three works by the artist, including The Visitors, one of Kjartansson’s best-known pieces. The hour-long, nine-screen video installation features nine performers, including Kjartansson, in different rooms of the hauntingly beautiful Rokeby Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. Each performer is shown playing an instrument and singing a song with lyrics by Kjartansson’s ex-wife. As with many of Kjartansson’s works, the song lyrics are limited and simple, but through repetition, their meaning changes as the installation progresses, resulting in an emotionally charged and moving experience.
Also featured in the exhibition is the 40-foot long neon installation titled Scandinavian Pain, along with The End, a prime example of endurance-based art and Kjartansson’s contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale. Secluding himself in a fourteenth-century palazzo, Kjartansson made one painting per day for six months, each depicting the same friend in a Speedo. The resulting—and rarely exhibited—144-piece installation, displayed in a salon-style space, is at once complex and over-simplified, making it a can’t-miss experience.
Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths is made possible through the generosity of The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation. The exhibition is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and curated by Gilbert Vicario, the Selig Family Chief Curator.


First Friday

First Friday of each month |  6 – 10 pm

See Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain and Other Myths during voluntary-donation hours on the first Friday of each month! Dates: December 7, 2018, January 4, 2019, February 1, 2019, March 1, 2019, April 5, 2019.

Discount Tire Free Family Sunday

Second Sunday of each month  |  noon – 5 pm

See Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain and Other Myths during voluntary-donation hours on the second Sunday of each month! Guests will also enjoy activities, live performances, free tours, and more.

Film Series

Explore Scandinavia through music and landscape in this four-part film series inspired by Scandinavian Pain & Other MythsFree for Members and included with General Admission for non-Members. Available at tickets.phxart.org.

Sponsored by the Angela and Leonard Singer Endowment for Performing Arts

We Call it Skweee
December 19, 2018  |  6–7 pm

Arctic Superstar
January 9, 2019  |  6–7:30 pm 

Faro Document
February 27, 2019  |  6–7:30 pm 

Through a Glass Darkly

March 27, 2019  |  6–7:30 pm


Free for Members, veterans and active-duty Militaryand youth aged 5 and under.

General Admission:
$23 — Adults
$20 — Senior Citizens (Ages 65+)
$18 — Students (with ID) 

— Children (Ages 6-17)

All exhibitions and installations are included with General Admission. 


Voluntary-Donation Hours:
This exhibition is open to the general public during voluntary-donation, pay-what-you-wish hours from 3–9 pm each Wednesday, from 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, and from noon–5 pm on the second Sunday of each month.
Group Sales:
Interested in coming as a group? For group sales information, click here. 


Media images and credit lines: Download here
Press Release: Download here
Media Contact: Margaree Bigler, Public Relations Manager, margaree.bigler@phxart.org


Ragnar Kjartansson, Scandinavian Pain, 2006-2012. Neon. Installation view at Phoenix Art Museum. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik. 

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012. Nine-channel video. Restricted gift of the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation to Phoenix Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © 2012, Ragnar Kjartansson. All rights reserved.