A 45-year-old Icelandic artist introduced himself the other day to a singer-songwriter ensemble at the Guggenheim. “Hello, my name is Ragnar Kjartansson and I am a recovering patriarch,” he said. “But just call me Raggi!” A few women laughed, and he continued, “And I’m shaking, I’m so emotional.” I think this piece will save the world.
Twenty-four female and non-binary musicians, along with Kjartansson, a bespectacled man who wore linen pants and suspenders, and a museum curator, who also identified himself as a man, had gathered for the premiere. rehearsal of Kjartansson’s “Romantic songs of the patriarchate”. four-day marathon orchestrated to reveal misogyny in popular culture. Within days, the singer-songwriters would collectively perform arrangements of beloved arias (including Cat Stevens’ Wild World, Police’s’ Every Breath You Take ‘,’ Love the Way You Lie ‘, de Eminem, with Rihanna) looped seven hours a day in the rotunda of the museum. “Some songs are ambiguous, some songs are violent and others are just beautiful love songs,” Kjartansson said. “These are beautiful songs, fantastic music made by great songwriters” —he paused— “and songwriters aren’t misogynistic. It’s right there in the culture. Songs are just that. ‘An affirmation of our culture. He added, “Every fucking song has patriarchal overtones. The more you think about it, it’s in, like, everything you hear.
A middle-aged woman in shorts and a long, plaid shirt tuned her guitar before the rehearsal began. Nearby, several artists discussed the project. “I never played a song over and over again,” said Miriam Elhajli, a young, short-haired musician. “I am wary of seeing what happens to my subconscious.”
“I didn’t know what it was,” said Felice Rosser, who played electroacoustic guitar. She was wearing spandex shorts and had an Apple earphone (song: “Love Me” by Lil Wayne, on loop) in her left ear. “I thought we were going to perform in front of someone’s paintings.” (Kjartansson said he liked the idea of the museum walls being bare, “so that your concentration doesn’t go wrong.”) Rosser’s voice grew dreamy: “I sing the songs of someone who has sold, like, one hundred and fifty-eight million records in the world. What does that say about my life? “
“I’m happy to bring out certain traumas in people! Another musician yelped.
After rehearsals began, Kjartansson and the work’s musical director, Kendra McKinley, a singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz, walked up the museum spiral as they listened to:
“He hit me, and it was like a kiss.“
“I know you want it, you’re a good girl.“
“Oh baby, baby it’s a wild world!“
McKinley added: “It sounds really great, but just be warned you can select it a bit slower because it’s a hard tempo to maintain for a long time.” McKinley had also co-arranged the music and would perform in the show. Kjartansson gave notes to another musician, who had dreadlocks. “Play the song in a sculptural way!” ” he said.
“Cool, I’ll do it,” the musician replied, laughing. They tried again: “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl / than be with another man.“
Around noon, Kjartansson called for a break and reflected on his own relationship with the Patriarchy. “I was in denial,” he says. “I’m still working to get it out of my veins.” He continued, “Is it really that great to be a man and to be abusive and violent? Is this really what we want? He looked down. “It used to be that you would just slap and rape and so on—”
“It still happens!” said a musician.
“It still happens, yeah, but now there’s more, like, whining, ‘I am very complicated emotionally‘, all that bullshit. We are using new weapons to oppress women. (Elhajli then gave up before the show started. “I didn’t want to spend a lot of emotional work helping a man understand his place in the patriarchy,” she said.)
The rehearsal resumed. “The intensity is skyrocketing. It’s like a David Lynch lullaby, where it’s, like, God, I’m seduced, but I also think I’m going to throw up! McKinley said, near the top of the rotunda. “The sirens are calling you!” “
The sirens waved: “She only eats cock / she is on a strict diet, this is my baby.“
“Every step you take / I will watch you.“
“It’s a fucking awesome song,” Kjartansson said, as a musician with wavy hair and flamenco guitar played “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. “But it’s really, like ‘Parental counseling! The musician, who sipped from a thermos filled with herbal tea, contemplated the lyrics of the song. “When I was six, my guitar teacher kissed me,” she said, rocking her guitar. “It was the first experience I had. It was pretty heavy. I was traumatized. She continued,“ As terrible as it sounds, I learned everything I know about the guitar from that man. “Then she started playing.” You let me rape you / You let me desecrate you / You let me penetrate you, “she sang.” You let me complicate you. “??