Ragnar Kjartansson at the Venice Biennale
A Crowd on Opening Night
Ragnar has transformed the pavilion in the old Palazzo Michiel dal Brusà into a makeshift studio and will relentlessly paint the portrait of a young man posing day after day against the backdrop of the Grand Canal. The young man modeling for him will be smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, while clothed only in a bathing suit. For six months, Kjartansson will limit his art production to the painting of this scene. He will produce one work after the other, with the paintings made on previous days left to accumulate in piles around the studio. This performance will go on until 22 November – a feat of endurance that few artists would undertake.
The exhibition also includes a new video and sound installation consisting of several scenes shot outdoors in the snow-covered Canadian Rocky Mountains showing Ragnar and collaborator Davíð Þór Jónsson playing an ambiguous country music arrangement on a variety of instruments. Ragnar sees the two performances as interconnected, reflecting a positive message of collaboration and camaraderie but the title of the exhibition shows that there is a darker side to the project, The End. Laura Cumming of The Guardian calls it “black comedy”.
The catalogue of the exhibition is a book published by Hatje Cantz, 120 pages with articles by Adam Budak, Caroline Corbetta, Cecilia Alemani, Markús Þór Andrésson and others, edited by Christian Schoen. In addition to the catalogue, there will be a portfolio available in the exhibition, thirteen black-and-white photographs and a unique drawing on paper. The portfolio is released in an edition 30 (plus 5 artist’s proofs) and can be had for 2,500 USD.
For more background on Ragnar and his ideas for the Venice performance, see Shauna Luarel Jones’ interview with him in this issue.
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