S.S. Hangover

Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson, S.S. Hangover, 2013 Boat, captain, brass instruments, and musicians Music by Kjartan Sveinsson Featuring musicians from Density512, Austin’s contemporary chamber orchestra collective Courtesy the artist; Luhring Augustine, New York; and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

Artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s kinetic sound sculpture S.S. Hangover, 2013, consists of a hand-painted boat sailing on the lagoon, occupied by a formal party of six brass musicians performing ethereal music by Kjartan Sveinsson. As if caught in a daydream, the S.S. Hangover sails in circles, transporting its occupants to nowhere. The black-tie-clad performers repeatedly play a lyrical score for hours that challenges their endurance—as well as that of the audience—while flirting with the potential for failure as time passes. Inspired by a set prop from the 1935 American film Remember Last Night?, a drunken comedy murder-mystery, Kjartansson (Icelandic, born 1975 in Reykjavik) restored a vintage Icelandic wooden fishing boat to its likeness. The artist previously enacted a version of this playfully romantic performance at the 55th Venice Biennale, where musicians seemed to have left a party in a beautiful hybrid Scandinavian-Venetian-Grecian boat, replete with a sail featuring a mythical and overly plump Pegasus. The delightful and absurd performative sculpture S.S. Hangover plays with notions of irony and sincerity, artifice and authenticity, and fantasy and reality, putting forth the idea of existential humor as a commentary on the human condition.

From Fusebox Ragnar Kjartansson is an artist fascinated by looping, duration, and endurance. His video series Me and My Mother depicts his mother spitting on him every five years; in the multi-channel installation The Visitors, he and nine other musicians play the same refrain again and again in the many rooms of an abandoned mansion; and in Woman in E, a woman on a raised platform strums an E minor chord on guitar for two and a half hours. S.S. Hangover, another sound sculpture-cum-performance in an Icelandic fishing boat containing local brass musicians playing on repeat, as the boat also loops the waters of Laguna Gloria. Imperfect but repeating, stretching time in all directions, this looping allows us to meditate and reflect, and asking us to reevaluate what it means to be “bored” and to reflect profoundly on time itself. These loops, according to Kjartansson, refer to our rehearsals for living: “I just love it when human beings are trying to achieve something and it sort of doesn’t happen. I think it’s the ultimate human moment.”

Sunset performance on Sunday, April 22, from 4–8P, is presented in partnership with the Fusebox Festival. Picnics are welcome and blankets suggested for seating. Additional performances on select weekend dates: April 7, 8, 14, 15, and 28, and May 5 and 6, from 11A–3P.

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