Ragnar Kjartansson (Icelandic, b. 1976)
Still from The Man, 2010.
HD video projection, Duration: 49 minutes.
Gift of Graham and Ann Gund to Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, 2015.1.2.
Kjartansson’s interest in music often leads him to focus on the persona of the performer. The Man (still shown above) presents a portrait of American blues musician Pinetop Perkins playing an upright piano improbably situated in a field just outside of Austin, Texas. Born in 1919 in Belzoni, Mississippi, Perkins began playing guitar and piano during the rise of the Delta Blues.
Kjartansson’s portrait takes its place in a century-long history of reverence for and exploitation of black musicians. For this work, Kjartansson was interested in the reconciliation of Perkins’s on-stage persona with his private self. Frail and often disoriented, Perkins repeats songs and statements creating an unmediated loop, fashioning a dual portrait of an elderly man toward the end of his life, and a historically important musician, who is the keeper of a disappearing tradition.
-From ICA Boston