About the Work
About Performance Sketches Portfolio
The photographs in the Performance Sketches Portfolio are taken from Ragnar Kjartansson's elaborate performance piece The End — Venezia, developed for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Kjartansson set up a painting studio in the Palazzo Michiel dal Brusa by the Grand ...Read More
The photographs in the Performance Sketches Portfolio are taken from Ragnar Kjartansson's elaborate performance piece The End — Venezia, developed for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Kjartansson set up a painting studio in the Palazzo Michiel dal Brusa by the Grand Canal, where each day for six months he painted a portrait from life of a slim young man, fellow Icelandic performance artist Pall Haukur Bjornsson, wearing only a black Speedo.
In the performance Kjartansson plays the role of the cliché artist, with slicked back hair and a beard, smoking cigars and drinking beer, while his subject languishes like a blasé Dorian Gray. The piece is both reverent of art and the artistic process, while also mocking the fantasy of the Bohemian artist and his muse.
About the Artist
About Ragnar Kjartansson
Ragnar Kjartansson's tragicomic performances take on the boundaries between art and life, fiction and reality. His work is often about the nature of art ...Read More
Ragnar Kjartansson's tragicomic performances take on the boundaries between art and life, fiction and reality. His work is often about the nature of art, addressing our romantic mythology of the Artist as mysterious, elevated, or bohemian. Though primarily a performance, video, and installation artist, Kjartansson does it all, regularly incorporating painting, drawing, sculpture, and music (he is pop royalty in his native Iceland) into his practice.
Theatricality, repetition, and identity are recurring themes in Kjartansson's performances, in which he often stars as a version of himself melded with a character from cultural history. For example, in his 2006 live performance Sorrow Conquers Happiness, captured in the video God, Kjartansson posed as a debonair 1940s nightclub crooner, singing "sorrow conquers happiness" over and over accompanied by a jazz trio before falling into a trance. In his 2008 Schumann Machine, he built a shack decorated with flames and inside recited a dramatic poem accompanied by a piano. These works, funny and farcical yet melancholic, exaggerate the romanticism of artistic emotion.
Unlike infamous performance artists like Marina Abramovic and Chris Burden who make the viewer feel uncomfortable through their suffering and endurance, Kjartansson's performances are enjoyable to watch and do not alienate the viewer. He says, "I try to take a theatrical approach to make it look easy. Like: 'Ha ha ha! I'm enjoying myself, in opera!'"
DescriptionSet of 13 black-and-white photographs and a unique drawing on paper.
DimensionsThis is a set of 13 photographs, each measuring 11" x 14".
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