Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ragnar Kjartansson

Although Ragnar Kjartansson's work is often characterised by a melancholy sadder than the most postmodern pessimism, it never becomes apathetic. And while it tends to be as ecstatic as modern optimism can get, it never turns fanatic. Performances like The End (2009) and the truly inspired Sorrow Conquers Happiness (2006) are ironic, parodic and frequently pastiche. But at the same time, they are sincere, sentimental and heartfelt. In The End, Kjartansson takes up residency in the Venice Biennale for six months. He drinks beer. He smokes cigarettes. And he paints images of a man in his underpants. One beer after the other, one painting after the next. In Sorrow Kjartansson sings one line over and over. The notes change, the tone alters, but the line remains the same. The End and Sorrow resemble the child that takes the joke too far. The joke loses one meaning but gains another, as yet undefined one (irritation? tragedy?awkwardness? confusion? slapstick comedy? sincerity? naivety? etc). They are as absurd as they are instantly comprehensible; and if they alienate, they also attract. Indeed, like so many metamodern art works, they oscillate between a desire for sens and a doubt about the sense of it all.

Image: Ragnar Kjartansson, The End (2009). Courtesy Luhring Augustine Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment