Wk 9 — Artist Essay — Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson was born in 1976 and lives in Reykjavík. He is known for his endurance-based performances and video installations. Pretending and staging become key tools in his attempt to convey sincere emotion and offer a genuine experience to the audience. Kjartansson is the recipient of the 2015 Artes Mundi’s Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award and Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award.

Kjartansson incorporates all of the arts into his human works, which include music and theatre. He creates durational experiences, often centered around himself and involving friends and family. He also creates paintings that consist of more subtle, muted tones. They’re very easy to look at and they’re all cohesive so that anyone that lays eyes on them would appreciate his work.

Kjartansson’s works are “always about a feeling, but there’s no story.” The inspiration that Ragnar draws from is the world around him. He takes every aspect of it and works that into his art and that way, he is able to live in art by doing so. He is a strong believer in the power of repetition and its ability to bring out feelings and emotions. This is shown in his piece “The Visitors” where a single song is performed for sixty four minutes straight by nine different musicians.

The whole meaning behind Kjartansson’s work is that it is all about a feeling than a story that is being told. The question being how do you feel rather than what does it mean? I personally think feeling is more important than what something means because we are human and we tend to use our intuition and heart to pursue something than any other influencing factor. It’s nice to be able to embrace our feelings rather than analyze a story and Kjartansson does a great job at allowing his audience to do so.