Kjartansson's lesson in bonding from Iceland

The vistors

© Ragnar Kjartansson; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik.

The most astonishing fact about the European Cup drama  was not that England lost but that a tenth of Iceland’s 330,000 population had been at the game.  “It’s a small place ” said a couple from Reykjavik who managed to get tickets to the sell-out match at the last minute. They knew one of the players. The ability to relax the grip on their egos  for the sake of a bigger enterprise is a key lesson to be learnt from the cool, yet warm, Icelanders.(see my previous post on the Vasulkas)

Next month MI art lovers will have a chance to experience the kind of selfless bonding that secured Iceland’s win by spending time in the multi screen film installation The Visitors  at the Barbican Art Gallery. Devised by the Icelandic artist, Ragnar Kjartansson, this is an hour long music video (of sorts) with a compelling message about gender identity. You are drawn into that strange empathy that musical ensembles must embody, harder to achieve in this set up as the musicians are all in different rooms. In the subtlest possible of ways Kjartansson  physically manipulates his audience into a position of community solidarity, something we could all do with at the moment. I do not wish to spoil the surprise of how he achieves this, so my full review will wait until after the opening on July 14.  Go see.