One of the best-loved works in the ICA’s permanent collection, The Visitors is the first newly installed exhibition at the museum following months of closure

(Boston, MA—September 16, 2020) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors, a monumental, nine-channel sound and video installation of a performance staged at Rokeby Farm, a historic forty-three-room estate in upstate New York. The first newly installed exhibition at the museum following months of closure during the global COVID-19 pandemic, The Visitors (2012) is a truly beloved artwork in the ICA’s permanent collection, one that continually inspires and moves our community. The exhibition opens to members on Wednesday, September 30 at 10 AM and to the public on Thursday, October 1 at 5 PM. Advance timed tickets required at On view through August 15, 2021, this presentation is organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.

Each of the individual audio and video channels shows a musician or group of musicians, including Kjartansson, playing instruments either alone or in groups, isolated yet in unison, occupying different rooms of the romantically dilapidated house. The musical composition—whose lyrics come from the poem “Feminine Ways,” written by artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir—coheres in the work’s installation, presenting an emotionally dynamic and moving ensemble performance Kjartansson refers to as a “feminine nihilistic gospel song.” Through its unique arrangement of music in space, The Visitors creates a layered portrait of the house and its musical inhabitants. For some, the prolonged experience of sheltering in place—characterized at times as being alone together—has dramatically changed our conception of home and complicated our relationships to one another. As the museum reopens and visitors return, we turn to this familiar work for its range of resonant themes, its capacity to comfort and heal, and with the knowledge that our experience of it at this time will be different.

Exhibition-related programs

Virtual Play Date: In Harmony
Fri, Sep 25, 10 AM, 2:45 PM, 3:30 PM + 4:30 PM
Interactive workshops on Zoom with advance registration
nspired by The Visitors, explore how music, art, and movement resonate through us. Families are invited to explore, look, create, and move as we dive into contemporary art and making. Please note the new Fall Play Date schedule, beginning this month: Little Play Date from 10–10:45 AM for families with children ages 5 and under; Play Date After School starting at 2:45 PM for families with children of all ages. Virtual Play Dates occur on the last Friday of the month. Schedule and program descriptions will be posted closer to the event date. Workshops will be held on Zoom and will be live and interactive. Advanced registration required.

Virtual First Fridays: A Visit with Oompa
Fri, Oct 2, 8 PM

Streaming on Facebook, Twitch, Vimeo, and the ICA website
Boston-based performer, rapper, and poet, Oompa will take over First Fridays with a performance inspired by and in the spirit of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors, a tribute filmed in the ICA’s building!

Virtual Public Celebration
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
Wed, Oct 21
Steaming on Facebook, Twitch, Vimeo, and the ICA website

Join us to virtually celebrate the opening of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors, with special appearances and tributes to this beloved artwork in the ICA’s permanent collection, one that continually inspires and moves our community.

About the artist

Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976, Reykjavik, Iceland) has had solo exhibitions at the Reykjavík Art Museum, the Barbican Centre, London, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Washington D.C., the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the New Museum, New York, the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna. Kjartansson participated in The Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale in 2013, Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2014, and he represented Iceland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The artist is the recipient of the 2015 Artes Mundi’s Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award, and Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award. The artist lives and works in Reykjavík.

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at Follow the ICA at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The ICA is committed to maintaining a respectful and safe environment for all at the museum.

ICA Kids and Family programs are supported, in part, by Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld, the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, the Willow Tree Fund, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and the Raymond T. & Ann T. Mancini Family Foundation. 

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