Ragnar Kjartansson draws on the entire arc of art in his performative practice. The history of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature finds its way into his video installations, durational performances, drawing and painting. Pretending and staging become key tools in the artist’s attempt to convey sincere emotion and offer a genuine experience to the audience. Kjartansson’s playful work is full of unique moments where a conflict between the dramatic and the banal culminates in a memorable way.


A Wagnerian tableau of sorts, Kjartansson’s s.s. Hangover sailed between two landings in the canal in the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale 2013. The boat was manned by a brass sextet continuously playing a piece by composer Kjartan Sveinsson, which he created specifically for this work. The hemicyclic sailing of the sound of horns, trombone and tuba results in a stereoscopic effect. The boat dropped off the musicians one at a time, each left to play alone on the pier as it sails away with the rest of the band still playing onboard, only to be picked up a round or two later and replaced by another musician in a continuous loop.


s.s.Hangover, a haphazard hybrid of Greek, Icelandic and Venetian ship design, was originally a 1934 wooden fishing boat from Reykjavík; it was transformed by the artist into a remake of a theatrical boat that appeared on dry land in a swanky party scene in the film Remember Last Night? (1935).

Tryggvagata 16, 101 Reykjavik