March 24, 2014 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary - Ragnar Kjartansson and friends
March 24, 2014

Ragnar Kjartansson and friends

Ragnar Kjartansson and friends
The Palace of the Summerland

April 3–June 8, 2014

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary–Augarten
TBA21–Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A
1020 Vienna
Hours: Wednesday–Thursday noon–5pm, Friday–Sunday noon–7pm, April 3–27: Saturdays noon–midnight
Free admission

T +43 1 513 98 56 24
augarten [​at​]

Opening: Thursday, April 3, 7pm
Live performance: April 3–April 27
Performance nights (exhibition open until midnight): April 5, 12, 19 and 26
Exhibition: April 30–June 8

“It will be a factory where we are building, acting, and filming an impossibly big story on beauty. The drama is on-site. We are making an epic on a soft porn budget, surrounded by the audience. It is a hopeless task. A true disaster.”
Ragnar Kjartansson

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (TBA21) is embarking once again on a bold new commission, creating a piece of performance art that flirts with literature, music, and sculpture—a manic journey presented under the guise of making a film. Ragnar Kjartansson, along with a group of 20 artists, musicians, friends and family will present—indeed create and live—the visionary durational performance project titled The Palace of the Summerland. They will perform non-stop for four weeks in April at the exhibition venue of TBA21–Augarten, transforming it into a Fellini-type film studio, an art factory open to the public.

Over the last nine years TBA21 has supported the performance career of this rising star of the Icelandic art scene. It is a testimony of this long-standing collaboration and support that Ragnar Kjartansson has committed himself to this unique project, which once again pushes the limits of his multifaceted practice, combining durational performance, real-life encounters, and the ingenious intermingling of literature, theater, music and film.

A hopeless task—a true disaster
The Palace of the Summerland involves making an epic movie based on Halldór Laxness’s novel World Light. The screenplay for the film adaptation, written by Kjartansson, Halldór Halldórsson and Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson, comprises 80 scenes with extremely elaborate content. Everything needed will be produced on-site, including a dozen sets, numerous backdrops, as well as props and costumes for the 20 different characters. Every day, this fearless troupe will rehearse, realize and commit to film anything from two to five scenes. The Palace of the Summerland is an endeavor touched by madness indeed, replicating in material form the grand and almost delirious ambitions of the hero of World Light.

The team consists of a group of some of Reykjavík’s most prominent artists, comedians, writers, and musicians. They will leave their day-to-day lives behind and join Kjartansson on a Fitzcarraldo-like journey. The group will become The Palace of the Summerland by building it, acting it and living it.

By visiting TBA21–Augarten at different times, the public will be able to experience a diverse array of performative situations: a team caught in the middle of a rehearsal; Kjartansson narrating a scene; others painting sets and making costumes or props, while musicians rehearse a score by Kjartan Sveinsson (composer and former member of Sigur Rós). The entire production process—which is happening in front of the camera, as well as “behind the scenes”—will be visible to the viewer.

Following this four-week performance the specially constructed sets, hand-painted backdrops and other relics from the production process will become part of a large-scale installation. This installation will be on view at TBA21–Augarten from April 30 to June 8.

A hymn to the survival of the artistic spirit
World Light, written by Halldór Laxness, first appeared in four volumes between 1937 and 1940. The story revolves around Ólafur Kárason, an orphan living on a farm in rural Iceland. His only consolation is the dream of one day becoming a great poet. Despite the indifference and contempt of those around him, Ólafur is driven on by this sense of destiny. Living a life of poverty and loneliness, littered with failed love-affairs, Ólafur journeys across Iceland in his relentless pursuit of beauty, poetry and his idea of divinity. Among the central themes of World Light are solitude and its solace, as well as the transient moments of celestial and corporal revelation. It is a sort of hymn to the survival of the artistic spirit under the most inhospitable circumstances.

Commissioned and produced by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna.
Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavijk.

Michaela Zach: michaela [​at​] / T +43 1 513 98 56 17

Ragnar Kjartanson and friends at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
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