THERE’S cool, and then there’s artist/musician Ragnar Kjartansson, who takes cool to a whole new level, performing a 30-minute concert on a grand piano, knee-deep in snow in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with mate David Thor Jonsson.
Playing and filming in the extreme cold wasn’t done lightly nor as a publicity stunt, Perth International Arts Festival curator Margaret Moore says.
“It’s no mean feat to get the equipment to the middle of a lake [in winter]. The seduction of the images is not photoshopped, but a real performance.
“It’s easy to be glib about the images, I urge people to go and observe, to see the performance and hear the sound.”
Playing on composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ideas of spatial music, the duo performed versions of the composition, which were synched and played together for The End exhibition at the Fremantle Arts Centre.
The unique folk-country soundtrack and melancholy visuals provide a sensory experience that is poetic, compelling and whimsical, Moore says. She’s cock-a-hoop at getting the renowned Icelandic artist’s work down under.
“He is such a significant and influential contemporary artist.”
Kjartansson’s work will take over all the FAC’s galleries with a collection of watercolours and video installations.
“You find yourself moving in and out of different space and art work. It’s a journey that allows the audience to take in the works without being overwhelmed,” she says.
Like many of his works, The End focuses on the persona of the performers, and utilises a typically Icelandic style of storytelling.
Kjartansson leads audiences on a rambling yet highly choreographed journey, echoing elaborate myths and sagas.
“There is a bit of humour in it as well,” Moore says.
In Fremantle for the launch a couple of weeks ago, the humour of the exhibition wasn’t lost on Kjartansson: “From snow-laden Canada and minus degrees, and we are sitting in the hot sun, Ragnar enjoyed that.”
Running in conjunction, Kjartansson’s The Visitors will be on show at the John Curtin Gallery, in Bentley.
The End is on at FAC until April 6, and The Visitors until April 2.