Reality or Fiction? Ragnar Kjartansson at Barbican

Barbican Centre, London, UK 14 July — 4 September 2016

Opening 14 July 2016 at Barbican Art Gallery, this is the first ever UK survey of the work of the internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, charting his wide-ranging practice across film and performance, and his less well known work as a painter and draughtsman. Born into a family active in Iceland’s theatre scene, Kjartansson draws from a varied history of stage traditions, film, music and literature from Icelandic storytelling to opera music to contemporary pop culture. His performances, video installations, drawings and paintings explore the boundary between fact and fiction, as well as constructs of myth and identity. Donning various guises from a foot soldier, to a Hollywood crooner, to the incarnation of death, Kjartansson both celebrates and derides the romanticised figure of the artist as cultural hero.

2016年7月14號,巴比肯藝術中心(Barbican Art Centre)迎來了冰島藝術家拉格納·賈爾坦森(Ragnar Kjartansson)在英國的第一個個展。此次展覽展示了Kjartansson多件廣受好評的影像作品及行為藝術作品,同時也展示了少為人知的畫作及手作。生於冰島的一個戲劇家庭,Kjartansson很好地汲取了冰島戲劇、電影、音樂、以及文學傳統,從冰島式的敘事方式到歌劇再到當代流行文化。他的行為表演,影像裝置,速寫,油畫等作品都探討了現實與虛構的界線以及神話和身份的建構問題。Kjartansson把自己偽裝成步兵,好萊塢流行歌手,死神等等,嘲諷了自己扮演文化英雄的浪漫形象。

3. Ragnar Kjartansson, God, 2007

Ragnar Kjartansson God, 2007 Single-channel video projection, colour, sound. Loop: 30 min. Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna & The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik. Photo: Rafael Pinho. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík

Ragnar Kjartansson said: “I am extremely pleased to have my works in the legendary Barbican. The interdisciplinary buffet that the Barbican is fits my unfocused practice. Seriously I love the building the utopian feel and the programme that has kept me coming and coming as a tourist since my parents took me there in the 80´s.”


LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13:  Ragnar Kjartansson exhibition installation view at Barbican Art Gallery on July 13, 2016 in London, England. The exhibition runs from the 14th July - 4th of September 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine New York and i8 gallery Reykjavik.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Barbican Art Gallery)

Ragnar Kjartansson Scandinavian Pain Barbican Art Gallery 14 July – 4 September 2016 © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine New York and i8 gallery Reykjavik

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts said “It is a pleasure to welcome and present Ragnar’s work at the Barbican, an artist who, incredibly, has never had a sizeable show in London or a survey on this scale this side of the Atlantic. After two highly memorable presentations at the Venice Biennale, and a host of new commissions across Europe and the United States, Ragnar is an artist at the forefront of contemporary art and I’m thrilled this show will bring his eclectic practice to a wider audience.’

Barbican視覺藝術部門的主管Jane Alison說道:“Kjartansson的作品能在這裡展示讓我們非常激動,他是一位不可思議的藝術家,他從來沒有在倫敦舉辦過如此大型的個展。Kjartansson兩次在威尼斯雙年展的作品以及在歐洲和美國的委託項目都讓人印象深刻,他是當代藝術的先鋒人物,因此我非常高興可以把他的作品呈現給更多的觀眾。”

Music, repetition and endurance are key ingredients in Kjartansson’s video and performance works and the exhibition centres around two major works combining these elements. Shown to much acclaim at the New Museum in New York, Kjartansson’s autobiographical performance, Take me here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage (2014) is presented. Full of romance and humour, 10 male troubadours are spread throughout the lower gallery, singing and strumming their guitars against a projected soft focus love scene acted by Kjartansson’s parents. The actors met on set and family legend has it that Kjartansson was conceived at the time the film was shot in 1975. In homage to the interweaving of the real and the fictional, Kjartansson invited Kjartan Sveinsson, former member of the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós to transform the dialogue into a polyphonic score.

Kjartansson的視頻及表演作品裡經常出現三大元素:音樂,重複性,持久性。此次在Barbican展出的兩件重要作品很好的傳達了這些元素。其中一件作品是曾經展於美國紐約New Museum的自傳式作品《Take me here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage (2014) 》。這件作品既浪漫又幽默,獲得了一致好評。10位民謠歌手分佈於首層空間的各個角落,進行持續不斷的彈唱表演,走著唱,坐著唱,躺著唱,牆上投影的是Kjartansson父母表演的愛情劇。據說正是因為父母在拍攝這段電影的時候相愛並有懷上了Kjartansson。為了紀念如此戲劇性的“誕生”,Kjartansson將現實與虛構交織在一起,邀請來冰島搖滾樂隊Sigur Rós的前成員Kjartan Sveinsson,把影片中兩人的對話台詞編寫成一段和弦樂曲,再由民謠歌手在展覽空間內傳唱。

Kjartansson’s celebrated video installation, The Visitors (2012) is also on show in the lower gallery, comprising of a series of nine life-size video tableaux of a musical performance staged at historic Rokeby Farm in Upstate New York where Kjartansson has been a frequent visitor since 2007. Shot in one take, each musician was recorded in a separate room of the home or on the grounds of Rokeby, singing the same refrain ‘once again I fall into my feminine ways’ for just over an hour. The synchronisation of the screens in the exhibition space merges the individual interpretations into a cinematic and harmonic composition.

另一件深受眾人喜愛的作品《The Visitors》也表現了Kjartansson偏愛的這三大元素。這件作品亦展於首層空間內,九個真人大小的屏幕錯落有致地懸掛在牆上,每個屏幕都在播放不一樣的空間場景,這段一鏡到底的影片攝於紐約州北部著名的Rokeby莊園,八位表演者(包括Kjartansson本人)分別佔據別墅裡的八個房間並運用不同的樂器進行彈唱,重複地唱著同一句副歌 “…once again I fall into my feminine ways…” 整整一個小時。每個屏幕裡同步播放著的個人演奏重新組合成為一個猶如電影般唯美和諧的合唱。


The Visitors, Ragnar Kjartansson. Barbican installation view.

4. Ragnar Kjartansson. The Visitors, 2012

Ragnar Kjartansson The Visitors, 2012 Nine-channel video, colour, sound. Loop: 64 min. Production photo: Elisabet Davidsdottir. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.

One of the earliest works on show, Me and My Mother, is an ongoing video collaboration with his mother dating from 2000, and features four video screens, filmed over five years apart where she repeatedly spits in his face over several minutes with intensity and vigour at once provocative, humorous and absurd. As well as exploring family relationships and the passage of time, the series also engages us with Kjartansson’s interest in the conflation of reality and fantasy as mother and son slip into their professional roles.

展覽裡其中一件最早的作品要數自2000年起至今仍在進行的《Me and My Mother》。這是Kjartansson與其母親合作的一個影像作品。牆上四個屏幕播放的是Kjartansson母親向Kjartansson臉上吐唾沫的場景,從2000年開始到2015年,每隔五年都會表演一次持續數分鐘的“母親鼓足氣勢地向兒子吐唾沫”,這個幽默又荒誕的系列探索了家庭關係以及時間的消逝,再次展現了藝術家對於混合現實與虛構的喜好,這件作品裡母親與兒子各自職業角色的交錯也足夠耐人尋味。

For the first time in the UK, Kjartansson’s series of 144 paintings, The End (2009), made over a 6-month period during the Venice Biennale, are on display. As his native country was in the midst of an unprecedented economic meltdown, Kjartansson inhabited the role of a bohemian artist, painting the portrait of the same young model, day after day, drinking and smoking against the backdrop of the Grand Canal. While the project served to document the artist’s own experience, his obsessive repetition of the same subject and maniacal accumulation of paintings hinted at the nihilism of art in the face of the real world. Drawing and painting are an essential part of Kjartansson’s practice and the exhibition also includes a selection of his intimate Moleskin sketchbooks and watercolour paintings for his durational performances.

Kjartansson在53屆威尼斯雙年展上創作的作品《The End(2009)》也於這次Barbican個展上進行了在英國的首次展示。在雙年展期間的六個月裡,Kjartansson一直駐留在展館內畫了144幅油畫。Kjartansson的祖國當時正在經歷一場前所未有的經濟危機,因此Kjartansson把自己塑造成放蕩不羈的藝術家身份,在威尼斯大運河的背景下一日復一日地喝酒、抽煙、畫著同一個年輕模特…這個項目記錄了藝術家自身的經驗歷程,他對於重複同一個主體的沈迷以及畫作的瘋狂積攢,直指藝術在現實世界面前的虛無。速寫與油畫是Kjartansson實踐中的重要創作部分,因此該次個展也展出了Kjartansson隨身攜帶的一系列Moleskin速寫本,以及為持續行為表演而創作的水彩畫。

To coincide with the exhibition, Kjartansson has conceived a new work of a mirrored scene of movement and symmetry entitled Second Movement (2016) for the Barbican Lakeside every Saturday and Sunday. In a theatrical reality, two women in quintessential Edwardian costume row their boat on the Barbican Lakeside embracing in a never-ending kiss. With gentleness and tension and the feeling of Mozart’s famous composition Second Movement of Piano Concerto 21 echoing from the title, the performance is in stark contrast to the Brutalist surrounds of the centre.

為了此次個展,Kjartansson也特地創作了關於運動與對稱的鏡像場景新作《Second Movement(2016)》,這件作品只有在週末才會在Barbican湖上進行展示:在一個戲劇般的現實場景裡,兩位身著典型愛德華時期衣裳的女子在湖畔上划船並一直進行似乎永不結束的親吻。這件作品的命名呼應的是莫扎特著名的《Second Movement of Piano Concerto 21(莫扎特第21號鋼琴協奏曲第二樂章)》,柔和又富有張力的表演與Barbican大樓的野獸派風格形成了鮮明的對比。

About Ragnar Kjartansson


Ragnar Kjartansson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1976, where he lives and works. His recent solo exhibitions and performances include, Krieg (War), Volksbühne, Berlin (2016); Ragnar Kjartansson: Woman in E, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2016); Seul celui qui connaît le désir, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015—16); Me, My Mother, My Father and I, New Museum, New York (2014); The Palace of the Summerland, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2014); The Explosive Sonics of Divinity, Volksbühne, Berlin (2014); The Visitors, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2012—13); Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2013) and HangarBicocca, Milan (2013—14); It’s Not the End of the World, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2012— 13); Song, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011— 2012). Kjartansson performed A Lot of Sorrow, with The National at MoMA P.S.1, New York (2013). Kjartansson was the recipient of Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award for his performance of Bliss, a twelve-hour live loop of the final aria of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and in 2009 he was the youngest artist to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale.


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