The disintegration of a marriage is captured in a musical performance piece by Ragnar Kjartansson and a bevy of his friends, currently showing at the Luhring Augustine gallery in NYC, but closing tomorrow. Kjartansson took a piece of poetry by his wife and set it to music and the piece is composed of live video capturing nine musicians performing it. The marriage was in the process of falling apart when they recorded this and he sings with alternating heartbreak and cathartic release, making it a powerful piece. The show is comprised of nine separate screens, each showing a recording of one of the performers, all simultaneously playing the same piece together. It was recorded at the Rokeby Farm mansion, itself in a state of romantic disrepair, in the Hudson Valley area of NY. I wandered through the darkened gallery space, listening to each individual musician, with their part highlighted as I stood in front of their screen. Meanwhile each solitary artist was accompanied by the entirety of the group playing through the speakers set around the room. The jam lasts about an hour, during which time some of the musicians wander out of their own video frames and into the rooms where the other musicians are playing. It’s a study in relationships, solitariness, dissolution, friendship, and collaboration. Life happens and love is discovered and lost, yet somehow we survive in the midst of all this chaos.
“There are stars exploding around you, and there’s nothing, nothing you can do…”