Ragnar Kjartansson’s latest work, S.S. Hangover, offers peaceful music and quiet, a journey that goes nowhere, yet never ends. Six musicians play a 5-minute piece (composed by Kjartan Sveinsson) in a mini-Viking ship that circulates two large slips at the back of the Venice Biennale Arsenale complex.
There is humor in the piece – the name of the ship, the seemingly pointlessness of the journey – but it is a contemplative work, offering the viewer a moment to think, to drift, to consider where we might be next.
I watched on the final day, a chill in the air, as everyone smoked – musicians, composer and artist alike – and the moment to disembark arrived and they set sail on the last tour of a six-month journey.The captain pushed off, pipe in hand, and steered the miniature vessel on its tiny course, and the musicians played, paused and played again, left a lone trumpeter on a dock, returned for him again, played and drifted on in silence, played again. Happily, it is an almost endless thing, something to remember as we look forward to Kjartansson’s next work, more time to think, at The New Museum in 2014.