© Ragnar Kjartansson
Photo: Elísabet Davids
About This Artwork
Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s nine-screen installation The Visitors was filmed at the historic Rokeby farm in upstate New York. Kjartansson invited a group of friends to stay with him for a week at the ethereal, yet decrepit estate, culminating in the ambitious performance. The title references the Swedish pop band ABBA’s final album of the same name, suggesting parallels between both the contents of and the social conditions surrounding the works.
Running for over an hour, The Visitors was produced in one take, recording each musician’s performance simultaneously in different rooms of the mansion. The friends play the same song, instilling it with nuanced meaning through voice, instrument and movements of the body. Kjartansson himself plays much of his rendition in a bathtub. The installation elicits feeling through duration and repetition: rituals are personalized, subtle variations emerge and decay is pervasive. The lyrics are based on a poem by Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir and the musical arrangements are by Kjartansson and Davíð Þór Jónsson.