May 31, 2019 - Iceland Review Skip to content

May 31, 2019

Ragnar Kjartansson Death is Elsewhere

Staging Reality

Before Ragnar Kjartansson became an artist exhibiting around the world, he was one of Iceland’s best-known musicians, most notably playing in electronic punk-pop band Trabant in the early 2000s. His music career has since been almost completely eclipsed by his career as a visual artist, with shows at the Venice Biennale, the Barbican Centre, and the Tate Modern. His most recent work, Death is Elsewhere, just premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. All this makes him a frightening figure to mull over – but when I meet him in person at his colourful central Reykjavík apartment, Kjartan is welcoming, cheerful, and effervescent. It also helps that our interview is repeatedly interrupted by his attempts to keep his one-year-old from crying or sticking her finger into electrical sockets. Ragnar himself is hardly seeking recognition. In fact, he says that he appreciates that in Iceland, artists are treated just like everyone else.

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