“The best art of the 21st century.” 

The Guardian

NOTE: Space is limited and visitors may need to wait to gain access to the work.

The first newly installed exhibition at the museum following months of closure during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ragnar Kjartansson’s (b. 1976, Reykjavik, Iceland) The Visitors is a truly beloved artwork in the ICA’s permanent collection, one that continually inspires and moves our community. A sentimental portrayal of friendship, love, and loss, The Visitors is a monumental, nine-channel sound and video installation of a performance staged at Rokeby Farm, a historic 43-room estate in upstate New York. Each of the individual audio and video channels features musicians playing instruments either alone or in groups, isolated yet in unison, occupying different rooms of the romantically dilapidated estate. The musical composition coheres in the work’s installation, presenting a 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 our relationships to one another. As the museum reopens, we turn to this familiar work for its range of resonant themes, that it might offer comfort or healing, and knowing that our experience of it at this time will be different.

Educational materials

Intro wall text

Dear Visitors,  

This presentation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s (b. 1976, Reykjavik, Iceland) The Visitors is dedicated to you. The first newly installed exhibition at the museum following months of closure during the global COVID-19 pandemic, The Visitors is a truly beloved artwork in the ICA’s permanent collection, one that continually inspires and moves our community. A sentimental portrayal of friendship, love, and loss, The Visitors is a monumental, nine-channel sound and video installation of a performance staged at Rokeby Farm, a historic 43-room estate in upstate New York. Each of the individual audio and video channels features musicians playing instruments either alone or in groups, isolated yet in unison, occupying different rooms of the romantically dilapidated house. The musical composition 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. Now, we turn to this familiar work for its range of resonant themes, that it might offer comfort or healing, and knowing that our experience of it at this moment will be different.     

Love, 
The ICA 

Featuring: Ragnar Kjartansson, Shahzad Ismaily, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, Kjartan Sveinsson, Þorvaldur Gröndal, Ólafur Jónsson, and Gyða Valtýsdóttir