A combination of live performance, music, film, and fine art, the Barbican presents the first UK survey of renowned Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s works. Ragnar’s works dive into sorrow, bathe in melancholy, and yet you leave the exhibition feeling lighter. Uplifted. Like staring at a word for so long you stop recognizing it, Ragnar has an ability to take sadness and repeat it until it is no longer a feeling, but a construct to be mocked.
Wandering through the upper gallery, the hypnotic sounds of the live performance in the foyer - vaguely dressed boys strumming guitars and singing the same refrain for eight hours straight - mix with strains of music escaping under the curtains of installations upstairs and thrumming through the floor of those downstairs, creating a surreal cacophony. The absurd and at times unbelievable execution of Ragnar’s musical performances give way to stillness, with music that verges on sacred: hymnals to ABBA and Icelandic pulp cinema.
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