Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Star #136...Ragnar Kjartansson

Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen 
(The Explosive Sonics of Divinity)

Yesterday I mentioned a Sol LeWitt quote that's always with me and today I have another concept to share with you that I also hold onto quite tightly, this time by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. Kjartansson uses performance, sound, time, painting, drawing and more to convey emotion and the duality of drama and the mundane in his multi-disciplinary works. One of his concepts involves the repetition and layering of sound to produce a sculptural feeling or presence within a space. This idea, creating something tangible from something that cannot be held, fascinates me.

Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage

A few weeks ago, just a day or so after I got back from Iceland, I went to the New Museum in New York City to see his exhibition, "Me, My Mother, My Father, and I." One of the pieces, "Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage," was a looped scene from a movie his actor parents starred in years ago, paired with 10 live musicians playing the same song over and over. The film clip and music played during the entirety of the museum's opening hours every day. The lyrics of the song were the lines his parents spoke in this particular scene. I sat in the space for 45 minutes, closing my eyes occasionally, and listening. I watched the musicians move about, too, and later walked around the space to observe from different viewpoints…and I could feel this thing happening…the repeated music took on a solid form. It had weight, it had dimension, it had angles and in-between spaces. It became sculptural and I was in the middle of it. It felt amazing.

This idea of sculptural sound is just one of the reasons I admire Kjartansson's work. I am also very interested in how he uses sound, time and performance as materials on their own and in combination with things like paint and pencil. His ability to convey emotion is also important to me, and ultimately, I admire the way his work immerses me and causes me to forget where I am while making me keenly aware of space and what I am experiencing.

Guilt Trip

A Lot of Sorrow

You can see more images of my favorite Ragnar Kjartansson works on Pinterest. You can also read about another Kjartansson piece I saw while I was in Iceland here.

Thanks for reading.


Lisette said...

it sounds like you absorbed so much beauty in Iceland Amy, I'm very happy you did because your posts are wonderful; I've never thought of sound as sculptural but it makes complete sense! I'm really enjoyinrg all your posts from Iceland and how it's making its way into the future of your work.

Amy Tavern said...

Lisette, I did! And, thank you! I am still processing the experience… writing about it here is so helpful! It will be interesting to see what comes of it in the future… I'm really excited!