From Iceland — Singing Painting at Nylo

Singing Painting at Nylo

Published October 6, 2007

Singing Painting at Nylo

Can you start by explaining what this exhibition is all about?
Ragnar: The exhibition is named ‘God’. The walls inside Nylo are going to be covered with pink satin and in the end of the room will be the video, which features a big band playing and me singing. The loop is called ‘Sorrow Conquers Happiness’ and will be played over and over again. I said this phrase, “Sorrow Conquers Happiness”, during a Trabant concert at NASA once and everyone in the crowd seemed to agree with me. It also reminded me of something my dad told me once at Christmas. He called me into the living room and said very seriously: “Ragnar, it’s both sad and beautiful to be a human being.”

Davíð Þór: This weird beauty has followed us around when we have worked on projects together; the beauty and sadness in being so lively.

Ragnar: The pink satin represents that feeling in a way.

How did the collaboration between you two come about?
Davíð Þór: We got this genius to come and perform at the Flís release concert. He showed up with a whole stage set and repeated himself for half an hour before our show.

Ragnar: That’s basically how this all started. This performance, ‘Sorrow Conquers Happiness’. It was a beautiful piece and I wanted to do it again with many musicians. This time we created a mini-version of a big band. In all there are about 12 musicians who stand still while I sing. This video is sort of like a singing painting.

Your previous works are characterised by a mix between music and theatre, drama and humour…
Ragnar: Yes, and this video is a mix of music and cinema. It is a large production, filmed in the Latibær studio. The video deals a lot with the future and asks the question: What does the future hold for us? Nothing but sorrow.

Nothing but sorrow? That isn’t very positive.
Ragnar: Yes, both good sorrow and bad sorrow. It’s not very positive, I know, and this is a very dramatic exhibition. We try to create a certain situation. People can come and watch the video and then go home and groan a little, maybe.

Davíð Þór: Perhaps it will have the opposite effect on other people. People that are usually very sad might become happy after watching the video. Ragnar: It is also partly based on a struggle I’ve been dealing with. I used to be very religious as a teenager but all of a sudden, it disappeared. I was pretty bummed about it. But this all started as a joke. When we were thinking about a title for the exhibition we said: “Why not just call it God!” and then laughed about it. But then I found ‘God’ a very fitting title for the exhibition. It’s such a serious thing to say, ‘God’.

You once did a performance called ‘Satan is Real.’ Is there a connection between the two pieces?
Ragnar: Not really. But they are connected in a way that I’m fascinated about big emotions and big titles.

The exhibition opens this Saturday at 20:00. Will there be any happenings at the opening?
Ragnar: Well, this is such an elegant piece that I really want to have an elegant opening. A gala opening. I once saw a video from an opening in the US in the 1960s and everyone was wearing a tux. I though that was very cool.

So there will be a dress code?
Ragnar: Yes, an elegant dress code. The exhibition is open from October 5 to November 4 Text by Steinunn Jakobsdóttir a

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