Ragnar Kjartansson


Art at First Sound

by Jeremy Polacek on June 24, 2014

Post image for Art at First Sound

Riding the elevator at the New Museum has become an alluring audio experience. Nearly every floor calls out with some unseen signature of sound, whether it’s the notes of a boozy, guitar-strumming party or white noise.

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Post image for Go with the Slow: Ragnar Kjartansson’s “The Visitors”

Behind a curtain in the darkened gallery space at Luhring Augustine nine screens, each equipped with its own speaker have been arranged into two somewhat discreet areas. Eight of the screens feature the image of a single musician — a guitarist, pianist, banjo player, cellist, and so forth — and one screen offers a view of the porch of a large house where other instrumentalists, singers and assorted folks have gathered. Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation titled “The Visitors” documents in a single take the 64-minute-long performance of one song.

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Post image for Ragnar Kjartansson: The Artist as Clown

The fool, or jester, or clown is a well-established archetype in Western culture. We are taught that jesters provided entertainment for monarchs, prattling around in brightly colored costumes, poking fun at the court milieu while criticizing their masters and mistresses through their satire. The art world is pretty much like a royal court, right? It’s a self-serious, self-reinforcing community built around a central hierarchy. So who is our most perceptive clown?

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