Art Superstar Ragnar Kjartansson Is Bringing His Magic to San Francisco

Photo provided by C Project

Photo provided by C Project

There's a decent chance you've seen Ragnar Kjartansson's work in San Francisco. His nine-screen video installation, "The Visitors," was the centerpiece of SFMOMA's Soundtracks exhibit in 2017, and his "Scenes from Western Culture" and "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt" were both on show at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts over the summer. Past Kjartansson displays in the Bay Area have been just that: a gallery or museum inviting the public to see a video or rendering of the Icelandic artist's performance art. But in November, Kjartansson is creating and debuting an original performance piece right here in the city. And you can be there to witness it for free.

Kjartansson's San Francisco work, "Romantic Songs of the Patriarchy," is a three-day durational musical performance staged throughout the spaces of the Women’s Building in the Mission, November 9-11. The piece will feature musicians performing seemingly innocuous love songs about women, written by men. If you listen carefully, you'll realize they're actually pretty creepy. (Any bets on whether Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" will make the cut?) It's meant to be a humorous, poetic reflection on the state of our culture. 

His may not be a household name in America like Damien Hirst, but Google Ragnar Kjartansson and you'll see this guy is a BFD in the art world. And choosing San Francisco as the location for a new work wasn't a coincidence: local art collector Carla Emil made it happen.

"Romantic Songs of the Patriarchy" is the inaugural project from Emil's foundation, C Project, which she launched to bring original, performance-based art experiences to San Francisco. The foundation is committed to commissioning leading contemporary artists to create site specific art events in nontraditional venues that will be free and open to the public. 

“I’m very excited about bringing immersive art experiences that take place outside of the traditional museum or gallery setting to San Francisco,” Emil said.  “This is something I feel we need more of in our City and it’s why I founded C Project.  I have followed and admired Ragnar Kjartannson’s work since the beginning of his career and I love the way he often uses humor and music to explore nuanced subjects.  This will be Ragnar’s first live performance in San Francisco and I’m thrilled to have him as C Project’s inaugural artist.”

Timed tickets will be free to the public and available on Eventbrite starting September 5. Exhibition hours are November 9, 6–10pm; November 10, 1–9pm; and November 11, 1–9pm, and tickets will give you access to a 90-minute visit. You can reserve up to four tickets per order, so book for a group and gather your friends. It's not every day that something like this happens in San Francisco, and you don't want to miss it.