Reykjavik-born Ragnar is not a well-known name here and has never had a exhibition in the UK before.
Which is mad. A quick survey of his work shows he's one of the most exciting performance artists around. He's presenting his most famous video installation: The Visitors, as well as other installations and some drawings and painting, at the Barbican Centre.
Growing up in a theatrical family, spending his childhood waiting in the wings of the Reykjavik City Theatre, Ragnar's art is often a musical performance: which means it is entertaining and very accessible. Take, for instance, The Visitors, which has been shown worldwide three times since 2012, but never before here:
A dark room with nine screens, each showing a musician. One is in a bath (Ragnar himself), one at a piano, some are members of Icelandic band Sigur Rós, all are stationed in beautifully dilapidated country manor rooms. Together but alone, they sing the cryptic refrain ‘Once Again I Fall Into My Feminine Ways’. The Youtube comments for videos of the performance, unusually, are filled with appreciation. People clearly find the haunting song moving and arresting. It lasts just shy of an hour.
All the work showing promises to be filled with romance and humour. Another piece features live performances from troubadours alongside a soft-porn film acted by Ragnar's parents.
Ragnar's mother features again in Me and My Mother, a video in which she spits venomously and repeatedly onto her son's immaculate three piece suit. It's funny, it's alarming, it's strange.
Much like the humorous Ragnar himself. On this upcoming show: “The interdisciplinary buffet that the Barbican is fits my unfocused practice."
Everyone loves a buffet. This mid-career survey of his work should be food for the senses.
|What||Ragnar Kjartansson, Barbican Centre|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
14 Jul 16 – 04 Sep 16, Closes at 9pm Thursdays and Fridays
|Website||Click here to book via the Barbican|