The Visitors, a video installation that is part of the ICA’s permanent collection, has been showing at the museum for a few months and will be there until July 28th. This nine screen video installation is such an immersive and moving experience — my husband and I visited with our three year old, and we were all absolutely mesmerized and stayed to view it for a long while (even our wild child!). We were not alone: the room was full of people seated and taking it in or wandering the room to view each screen.
Each of the nine individual screens and audio channels portray a different view of musicians playing and singing in the various rooms of a rambling historic estate in upstate New York. As one moves around the room, the various voices weave together, as the musicians (including several prominent Icelanders) all interpret the song in their own way.
The lyrics are taken from the poem “Feminine Ways,” written by Kjartansson’s former wife and fellow artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir. The title refers to the name of the last album by ABBA, before divorce and discord ended their partnership, and Kjartansson refers to the performance here as a “feminine nihilistic gospel song.” It was mysterious and moving, and definitely worth seeing before it goes!
Along with the warmer weather, the ICA Watershed has reopened for the season! I recently had the chance to check out the new video installation at the East Boston space. By artist John Akomfrah, Purple is presented in a large room with six large screens along the length. The images shown on each screen play off each other as they shift, and the viewer has lots to take in during this one-hour experience.
Purple reflects on climate change and humanity’s effects on the earth, with footage of births and childhoods gone, archival footage, and water running over photographs, while accompanying sounds mingle, rise, and fall. Several passages focus on the visible pollution of smoke rising from smokestacks, and chemical foams frothing in rivers. These contrast with images of a “witness”: various individual figures wearing white parkas, set against a majestic landscape under threat. The vastness of these settings illustrate the beauty and the power of nature, which hopefully is a match for how we have done her wrong.
The Watershed will be showing Purple all summer, and entry is always free. A free water shuttle runs from the ICA’s location in the Seaport to the Watershed in East Boston, however the tickets do sell out, so plan ahead if a boat ride is an integral part of your plan!
Plus, it is fun to visit this part of East Boston! I plan to go back again with a picnic — the view across the water is beautiful.
Image Credits: 1-3/ Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors (still), 2012.Gift of Graham and Ann Gund to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Gund Gallery at Kenyon College. Courtesy the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik. © Ragnar Kjartansson; 4+6/ Laura Chassaigne; 5/John Akomfrah, Purple, 2018, Courtesy Lisson Gallery. © Smoking Dogs Films