World Light – The Life and Death of an Artist, 2015

Basel 2017
i8 Gallery, Luhring Augustine
4-channel video
Ragnar Kjartansson’s World Light – The Life and Death of an Artist is a four-channel video based on Icelandic author Halldór Laxness’s four-volume novel World Light (1937–1940). World Light portrays the tale of an orphan who yearns to become a masterful poet and his search for greatness, a quest which is riddled with difficulties, mediocrity, and tragedy. Kjartansson produced and filmed his take on the epic novel with his friends and family over the course of a month in Vienna at Thyssen- Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) in 2014. As a performance that was open to the public, the artist and his comrades built sets, made costumes, wrote music, rehearsed, and filmed scenes on site. The documentation and culmination of the performance realized in Kjartansson’s video materializes the essence of the novel it depicts, poignantly showcasing a romantic, idealistic undertaking and revealing its human imperfections. With its broken narrative of longing, death, and art, Kjartansson describes the video as a ‘Cubist painting of a novel’.