Originally published in What’s that Cat’s Story. ◊◊
For all the impressive effort that went into its presentation, The Visitors, 2012, emanates languor and mellow sadness. The nine-channel video and sound installation is the Icelandic artist’s latest attempt to achieve a state of “divine boredom,” and The Visitors is a humble success. A soulful song, with lyrics based on a poem by the artist’s estranged wife, is performed simultaneously in nine different rooms of the romantically disheveled Rokeby Farm in upstate New York. Each projection features an hour-long continuous shot of a solo musician or a group, crooning while accompanied by an instrument or two. With plaintive vulnerability, a naked Kjartansson covers the song on guitar while sitting half-submerged in bathwater. At the opposite end of the muted emotional spectrum is a jovial chorus outside the house, punctuating their rendition with occasional cannon fire. Over the course of the installation, the song’s loose unison disintegrates into distinct voices that fade in and out, conjuring intimacy and loneliness at once. (Through Mar. 17. Luhring Augustine)
Images courtesy of the gallery and the artist.