FOLKSONG is a ten-day performance. For six hours a day, Ragnar Kjartansson will stand in his tableau vivant of autumn trees and setting sun, singing his heart out to passers-by. The work is a European’s bona fide take on America, loaded with clichés from different cultural productions. Dressed in cocktail wear and braced with a shiny red hollow body guitar and a powerful amplifier, Kjartansson performs over and over again a short verse from an unknown but strangely familiar song.
Born in Iceland in 1976, Ragnar Kjartansson has as an artist and musician taken on countless roles, each a merger of personas from cultural history and his present self. His line of work includes video, drawing and painting, with performance at the centre of his practice. Exploring the relationship between the artist and the viewer, his experiments range from the display of a simple sign apologizing for the artist’s absence, to his physical presence for a whole month performing relentlessly. Combining the video loop, musical tradition and theatre practice, Kjartansson repeats the same thing again and again. In the role of the incurable romantic, he declares: “Art is for me like the blues; I use it to purify my soul.”