Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson

on Stage with his Mother

The "mother with child" is one of the oldest clichés in the art historical vocabulary. Performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson grew up in the theatre with an actress-mother who attuned him to what he calls "the realness of fakeness."

“Clichés are such a fundamental thing in our language and imagination,” says Ragnar Kjartansson, whose work with his own mother draws on centuries of art. Every five years Kjartansson’s own mother spits on her son for several minutes in front of a camera as a part of the ongoing performance work ”Me & My Mother”. His mother an actress, Kjartansson spent ample amounts in and around the theatre as a child but discovered as an adult that what interested him was the situation created on stage, rather than the narrative: “I became interested in creating these situations that are sculptural,” he explains of his move into performance art.

Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976) is an Icelandic artist, whose work ranges from paintings and drawings to videos, music and performance. Among Kjartansson’s works is his six-hour video ‘A Lot of Sorrow’, which shows the indie rock band The National onstage before a live audience in the VW Dome at MoMA PS1 in New York in 2013 (http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/kjartanssonthe-national-lot-sorrow). In 2009, at the age of 33, Kjartansson became the youngest artist ever to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale. Kjartansson’s work has been exhibited widely around the world, from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston to BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna. In 2011, he won the inaugural Malcolm Award at Performa 11 and in 2014 he was shortlisted for the Artes Mundi prize. He lives in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Ragnar Kjartansson and his mother Guðrún Ásmundsdóttir were interviewed by Tine Colstrup at the Art Alive festival in May 2016 at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken & Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • TAL R :

    Shortly before he turned fifty, we had the unique pleasure of spending six months with Danish artist Tal R, while he was in the process of making his grand series of nine enormous railcar-paintings, ‘Habakuk’. Watch the intimate and biographical film.

  • Jonathan Monk

    Show Me Your Phone

    British artist Jonathan Monk agreed to let us have a glimpse into his phone. Watch him as he shows us content ranging from photos of Starbucks cups with alternative names on them, to a video of a slightly bigger copy of his nose.

  • Mark Leckey

    This Strange Place In Between

    “Technology has put us in this strange place where we’re never fully present.” Experience Turner Prize-winning Mark Leckey in the midst of his absorbing installation, which is a replication of the ramps underneath his childhood bridge.

  • Jonas Gardell

    Outraged and Upset

    “We didn’t do anything because that was what life was like back then,” says Swedish author Jonas Gardell in this deeply moving interview about what homosexuals in Sweden had to endure during the prejudice surrounding the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

  • Peter Land

    Self-Portrait as a Homeless

    “It’s a little like rehearsing death to see oneself lying there like this.” Watch Danish artist Peter Land discuss his powerful surreal piece, which features a lifelike one-to-one cast of himself as a homeless wearing his own clothes.

  • Mette Winckelmann

    Woman to Woman

    ”You must evaluate whether the system you’re part of could be effectuated differently.” Meet artist Mette Winckelmann, who believes that abstract painting communicates deeper than language, and explore her visual take on gender politics.

  • 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.

  • Adam Caruso

    Novelty is nonsense

    "The European city is one of the great human inventions!” Adam Caruso advocates building with a deep sense of history and tradition. Meet the architect behind the award-winning Tate Britain conversion and numerous Gagosian galleries.

  • Thomas Hirschhorn

    A World of Collage

    Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn juxtaposes pixelated images from the media. His works are not about technology, says the artist: “I try to give form to what I can’t accept: that someone else can decide for me what I should do, see or think.”

  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    On Donald Trump

    Jonathan Safran Foer, star of American literature, offers interesting views on America’s new president and the consequences Trump will have on American culture. "The place for literature may be even more important than before," he says.

  • Dorte Mandrup

    Where Place Meets Sculpture

    Rising from the landscape in a place rich with materiality and history sits architect Dorte Mandrup’s new Wadden Sea Centre. Meet the renowned architect and see a building were “everything comes together.”