The Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (1976) gives his answers to the “Daily Dozen” questions.
1. What’s the best moment of your day.
In the wee small hours of the morning.
2. Why do you work as an artist?
I thought it was a cool profession.
3. Which films, concerts, exhibits, or books have left a lasting impression on you?
From the top of my head, those would be: “Amadeus”, by Milos Forman (I saw it 7 times back in 1984, and discovered the love of my life); “Scenes From A Marriage”, by Ingmar Bergman (so hilarious and painful); the Prince concert in London, 2007 (I've never seen a human being so close to being divine); the Sigurrós concert in Gaukur á Stöng, 1999 (to see your friends from the village do something unbelievable); Roni Horn at the Tate Modern in 2009 (the gold piece still haunts me as the sexiest thing I have ever seen); “Melancholia” at Neue Nationalgallerie in Berlin, in 2005 (that show had such a profound effect); “The Master and Margarita”, by Mikhail Bulgakov (it just made my teenage years); and “The Bell Jar”, by Silvia Plath (that stuff just made my adolescence).
4. Where do you currently get ideas for your works?
Mostly while I am riding my black Suzuki.
5. Which work(s) of art would you like to have in your possession?
“L´Origine du Monde”, by Courbet... imagine having that in your presence every day... wow.
6. What do you do when you’re not occupied with art?
I read about Icelandic politics on the internet. It is the only way to free my mind from the art goddess.
7. Do you sleep a lot?
Just regular. About 7–8 hours.
8. Do you collect anything?
I collect Frank Sinatra LP´s and Ittala cups, dishes, etc.
9. What is one of the most important things in your studio?
My record player.
10. What do you like to eat, and what don’t you like?
I like to eat French food. The thought of it is just so elegant. I don´t like to eat frozen food.
11. When you were a kid, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a really proper man. I would imagine myself in a trench coat, taking my family to the swimming pool.
12. Name three creative individuals, from any era, with whom you’d gladly spend an evening.
Mozart (party-man and god), Mary Wollstonecraft (the coolest lady that ever lived; she just stood up from the swamp of history and declared herself independent), and Muddy Waters (you could not find a more hip evening guest).
Ragnar Kjartansson in his studio. Photo: Mattias Akerfeldt