Armory Week 2018

Ragnar Kjartansson Lights Up the Armory Show Despite Lack of Golden Speedo

The Armory Show booth for i8 Gallery from Reykjavik.


Resonating at the Armory Show in ways that might be disquieting if all the implications were considered, an incursion by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson is lighting up a corridor of Pier 94 with an illuminated message: “DOPE & CORRUPTION.”

The new work, available in an edition of three, relates to an installation at a music festival in Copenhagen for which Kjartansson opened a bar last year bearing that name. More than simply a watering hole, the bar also served as the setting for daily striptease performances after which the artist was present in just a golden Speedo and a stately captain’s hat.

“It’s now a sculpture in stainless steel, can be outdoor or indoor,” said Börkur Arnarson, the director of i8 Gallery in Reykjavik. One of the three signs sold early on Wednesday morning, for $75,000.

Nearby the sign (and another Kjartansson work: a large, spare painting of the burnt head of a match) were three new wall works by Olafur Eliasson featuring antique Icelandic maps wrapped in smoked-oak frames and shielded by colored slabs of blown glass. The maps, dating back as far as 1855, are bathymetric, showing the depths of the ocean for the sake of ships traveling the Icelandic waterways. “There’s hardly any detail in the land—all the detail is in the sea,” Arnarson noted. The works are priced at €45,000 (around $55,800), for anachronistic nautical use or otherwise.

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