Explore The Scandinavian Pain And Other Myths With Emotionull


Ragnar Kjartansson, Scandinavian Pain, 2006-2012. Neon. Installation view at Phoenix Art Museum. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik. 

Recently I went to the Phoenix Museum, during my trip there I found the three work exhibit for “Scandinavian Pain and Other Myths” by Ragnar Kjartansson. Ragnar is an Icelandic artist born in 1976. During his time growing up his mother and his father were already actively in the film industry. With his father being a play writer and director, and his mother being an actress. Kjartansson was given quiet the upbringing into theater-centric art styles. When I first ran into this exhibit, I already knew it was by far the best exhibit and that it would stick with me the most, I wasn’t wrong either. When you first enter the giant room in the Phoenix Museum, you’re greeted with a huge neon sign with the words “Scandinavian Pain.” This piece was Kjartansson’s contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale. Behind the neon sign is a 144 piece installation displayed across a enormous wall. With the first look at this installation, you first realize a repeating character in each painting. This isn’t done by mistake however, and that’s because Kjartansson likes to work on art that focuses on repetition, identity and pop culture. During his six months in solitude, Kjartansson secluded himself into a fourteenth century palazzo, he painted one painting a day with his friend in a speedo. With each piece there is a lot of similarities yet so many differences making it hard to keep your eyes roaming the mass amount of pieces.


© Ragnar Kjartansson; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

© Ragnar Kjartansson; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

What by far stuck with me the most was the dark room you enter with a nine-screen video installation featuring The Visitors. Once you enter the room, you’re greeted with nine different performers, including Kjartasson in different rooms. In this spacious and romantic room, you’re allowed to walk around and gaze upon the artists, along with each screen it’s accompanied with a big speaker that really makes it feel as if the artists are playing in front of you. As they sing the lyrics written by Kjartansson’s ex-wife, they synchronize in this chaotic and manic twist of beauty. Each screen shows a different performer playing an instrument and singing along in normal and bizarre ways. The lyrics are simple, yet portray a thousand different emotions as each artist plays in their own unique way. This bizarre yet beautiful piece of art will have you stuck in place, yet wanting to walk around the room to explore. It’s oddly overwhelming. I was at a loss of words when in the room. I felt as if I was in an intense romantic scene, and that anything could happen at that moment. It was weird, but oddly satisfying. The footage that is shown during the exhibit was recorded in different rooms in the old yet beautiful Rokeby farm in New York Hudson Valley. I was lucky enough to experience this exhibit as the Phoenix Museum is one of only ten museums in America that has featured the work of The Visitors. Are you able to visit the Phoenix Museum? I wouldn’t miss this amazing chance to see this Exhibit. It will be featured there till April 14th, 2019. Don’t miss out!

Watch the hour-long, a nine-screen video installation featuring The Visitors & Kjartansson


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