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Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
“A generational masterpiece.”
A celebration of creativity, community, and friendship, The Visitors (2012) documents a 64-minute durational performance Kjartansson staged with some of his closest friends at the romantically dilapidated Rokeby Farm in upstate New York. Each of the nine channels shows a musician or group of musicians, including some of Iceland’s most renowned as well as members of the family that owns Rokeby Farm, performing in a separate space in the storied house and grounds; each wears headphones to hear the others.
As the music begins and repeats, individual players stop, start, and move between rooms. Viewed together, the individual videos present an ensemble performance Kjartansson calls a “feminine nihilistic gospel song.” The piece itself sets lyrics from a poem by artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Ragnar´s ex-wife, to a musical arrangement by the artist and Icelandic musician Davíð Þór Jónsson; the title comes from a 1981 album from Swedish pop band ABBA, meant to be its last.