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Curtin University of Technology
John Curtin Gallery

Current Exhibitions

Ragnar Kjartansson
The Visitors
The Man

Perth International Arts Festival

Thursday 12 February – EXTENDED TO 10 MAY 2015

Image: Ragnar Kjartansson The Visitors, 2012 nine channel HD video, colour, sound loop: 64:00 min.
Production photo: Elisabet Davidsdottir courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.


Ragnar Kjartansson is an influential contemporary artist from Iceland and his work comes to Australia for the first time as part of the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival.

Kjartansson has established an international reputation as a talented musician, performer and visual artist since 2009 when he represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale. His work is in great demand by major art museums around the world.

In this Australian premiere, Kjartansson presents his acclaimed nine-channel video installation, The Visitors. Recently shown at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, this work was filmed within the historic Astor family mansion of Rokeby Farm on the Hudson River in Upstate New York in 2012. The Visitors assembles a group of Kjartansson’s closest friends – artists and renowned musicians – who each contribute individual performances captured simultaneously in separate rooms in a collective ode to femininity.

Kjartansson combines music he created in collaboration with Davíd Thór Jónsson, with lyrics developed from texts taken from performances and videos of his ex-wife, artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir. The title was taken from the 1981 Swedish pop band ABBA’s last studio album, The Visitors, produced as divorce was breaking up their collaboration.

Bringing together the eight Vermeerlike vignettes – each performer captured in the dying light of the day in a single take within the rambling mansion’s decaying grandeur – Kjartansson allows viewers to witness the process of their collaboration as it unfolds over the duration of their rapturous performance. The artist manages to visualise the feeling of making music in compelling form – revealing the duality of individual performers concentrating on their own contribution, whilst simultaneously responding to the organic collaboration of the broader ensemble. It becomes a metaphor for the social utopia of “alone together”.

The Visitors is presented in tandem with Kjartansson’s cinematic video installation The Man – the beguiling portrait of 96 year-old legendary blues musician Pinetop Perkins, lovingly captured the year before his death in 2010. Evocatively set in a field outside of Austin, Texas, The Man is a work where the significance of the smallest details are magnified to create a mesmerising durational experience. Together, these works touch upon two things that happened in the twentieth century that the artist considers important: Feminism – heralding the twenty-first century as “the feminist century”; and the Blues – being the forerunner to Rock and Roll, which the artist describes as the first truly global culture.


Ragnar Kjartansson and his work will visit Australia for the first time as part of the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival.
Fremantle Arts Centre and John Curtin Gallery are pleased to partner with the Festival to provide a comprehensive insight into his work, across two galleries.

Filmed against the stark, snow-laden Canadian landscape, The End – Rocky Mountains is an epic five-channel music and video installation featuring Kjartansson and fellow Icelandic musician David Thor Jonsson. Playing on composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ideas of spatial music, the duo performed versions of a thirty minute composition in situ in the Rocky Mountains. When synched and played together in one space, the unique folk-country soundtrack and beautiful yet melancholy visuals provide a sensory experience which is poetic, compelling and whimsical. A series of watercolours will be also on display.





Attributed to Keith Indich, The Colours of the Setting Sun c1949.
The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork, Curtin University Art Collection.

...remembering Carrolup
Curated in collaboration with Edith De Giambattista and Noelene White

Thursday 12 February – Sunday 22 March 2015

On a bitterly cold, windy day in late May 1946, twelve year old Noelene White arrived at the Carrolup Native Settlement after a two day journey from the tiny railway siding of Narngulu, east of Geraldton. The long trip south to the mysterious ‘Carrolup’ was quite the adventure for Noelene and her two younger siblings – arriving with their parents under a grey sky, wide-eyed with little understanding of their destination. Her father, Noel White, with her mother Lily, had decided to relocate their family south to Carrolup, heeding the impassioned plea of former Carrolup teacher Coral Elliot in December 1945…this proved to be a momentous decision…

One day in November 1948 a large open backed truck pulled up without warning at the Kojonup farm where twelve year-old Edith Smith (De Giambattista) was living with her extended family. Strangers emerged from this unfamiliar vehicle and in spite of the protests of her outraged grandfather, the frightened Edith was abruptly lifted up onto the back of the truck and driven eastwards to the Carrolup Native Settlement without any explanation whatsoever. She would remain there, against her will, until January 1950…

65 years later these two remarkable women have come together to reflect upon their contrasting experiences of this place during this same period in the late 1940s.

The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork was generously donated back to Noongar Country by Colgate University in 2013. It was a momentous occasion, which rekindled Noelene and Edith’s friendship.

Through Noelene and Edith’s mutual respect and many shared memories, their selection of artworks enables us to appreciate just how significant the astonishing period of unbridled creativity was between 1946 and 1950, when Noel and Lily White were teaching at the Carrolup School, providing the spark that ignited the beacon we now know generations later as Carrolup art.

We are proud to continue to share this important legacy.