Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson

In Love with Satanavia

"There's something so sad about Scandinavia. It's this ideal part of the world, but it's just so black. It's so fucking sad. It's Sad-anavia you know. That's why I'm a big fan of it." Meet the vibrant Icelandic artist and melancolic jester - Ragnar Kjartansson.

In his paintings, drawings, videos, music and performances, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (b.1976) expresses a lyrical gloom combined with a subtle sense of humor. In this video Kjartansson talks of how he likes theatre, neon signs and Abba, and he explains how acting out fake emotions can be very liberating. He talks of the special Scandinavian melancholia and how he feels both love and respect for Edvard Munch - while at the same time finding him incredibly funny. "It's so banal that it becomes intellectual" he says of Munch's work and calls him "the Elvis of Scandinavian pain." “Scandinavian Pain” is an eleven-metre long, pink neon sign that Kjartansson originally installed on the roof of a barn in for the Momentum 2006 Biennial.

In 2009 when he was just 33 years old, Kjartansson became the youngest artist ever to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale.

Ragnar Kjartansson was interviewed on a newly-built barn inside Moderna Museet Malmö in Sweden by Jonas Hjort.

Camera: Klaus Elmer & Jonas Hjort
Edited by: Jonas Hjort
Produced by: Jonas Hjort & Marc Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Joyce Pensato

    Advice to the Young

    Homer, Mickey, Batman! Joyce Pensato – known for her unique work inspired by cartoon and comic book characters – here advises young artists to keep at it, love what they’re doing and, most importantly, “show your work, get it out there!”

  • Ulay

    Advice to the Young

    “If you want and need inspiration – go behind the central station.” The iconic artist – and self-proclaimed anarchist – Ulay here advises young artists to avoid art institutions and to make works that meet their own needs rather than that of the audience.

  • George Condo

    The Artist at Work

    The mind of American artist George Condo has been referred to as a place where “Picasso meets Looney Tunes.” Watch him at work in his New York-studio where he draws and paints his take on a 19th century painting by Manet.

  • Ulay

    Under My Skin

    This is the story of legendary artist Ulay, famous for his collaboration with Marina Abramović. As a solo artist in search for his identity, Ulay’s radical works have pushed the limits of photography and performance using his own body as material.

  • Olga Tokarczuk

    I Absorb Stories

    Olga Tokarczuk – one of the most important Polish writers of her generation – here shares how she draws inspiration from others: “People tell amazing micro-stories or even bigger stories. I seize them, absorb them and transform them in my books.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    What is the Connection

    The exceptional video artist Mika Rottenberg here presents her intriguing video installation ‘Cosmic Generator.’ Set on the U.S.-Mexico border and in a huge Chinese market, the work explores the collapse – or reinforcement – of distance.