Arts / Museums

Video Installation Dubbed the Best Art of the 21st Century is Showcased in Dallas

Ragnar Kjartansson's DMA Moment

BY // 09.26.19

If you are born in Iceland to a well-known actress and a father that is a director and playwright, chances are good you might end up in a creative field. Such was the outcome for Ragnar Kjartansson. An artist that doesn’t confine himself to just one medium and is known for his work through videos, video installations, performances, drawings and painting that have inspiration and references to culture and history.

The Dallas Museum of Art is currently presenting, Focus On: Ragnar Kjartansson, on loan from Dallas collector Marguerite Hoffman. On view are The Visitors, a nine-channel video installation that envelopes all those who enter the gallery. Filmed in a nearly 200-year-old farmhouse in Hudson Valley, New York, eight individual musicians each sing the same lyric that is taken from the words of the poem Feminine Ways by artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir.

When viewing, you can come up close to one screen to hear a solo voice, but when stepping further back you feel the chorus of all the musicians.

British newspaper The Guardian recently selected The Visitors as its No. 1 pick in its “Best Art of the 21st Century” rankings. Others making the list included Ai Weiwei’s Fairytale (2007) which came in at No. 17 and Gerhard Richter’s September (2005) which landed at No. 10.

Also, making its museum debut at the DMA is Postcards to Marguerite. Over the course of 14 months, Kjartansson mailed postcards to the collector and patron that shared personal events, both the mundane (meals, the weather) and profound (the birth of his first child) through watercolor, drawing and text. Both The Visitors and Postcards to Marguerite deal with the concepts of repetition and the passage of time, themes often found in Kjartansson’s canon.

“Focus On: Ragnar Kjartansson” at the Dallas Museum of Art, through March 22, 2020, dma.org.

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