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 Mythsis 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 of each month | 6 – 10 pm
Dates: December 7, 2018; January 4, 2019; February 1, 2019; March 1, 2019; April 5, 2019.
See Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain and OtherMyths during voluntary-donation hours on the second Sunday of each month! Guests will also enjoy activities, live performances, free tours, and more. Please see event for details.
Explore Scandinavia through music and landscape in this four-part film series inspired by Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths. Free 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