A new work featuring a team of revolving organists will be staged in Wales

Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s exhibition involves organists performing a hit Italian pop song for five hours a day across five weeks


‘The Sky in a Room’, a new work by Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson, will be presented at the National Museum Cardiff in February and March 2018. 


Kjartansson is both an artist and musician, having studied at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. Along with National Museum Wales, Kjartansson’s new piece was co-commissioned by Artes Mundi, which supports contemporary visual artists and stages a biennial international exhibition in Cardiff.

Kjartansson has based his exhibition on the Italian pop song ‘Il Cielo in una Stanza’, which will be performed by a series of organists for five hours daily across a five-week period. Sir Watkin Williams Wynn’s 1774 organ will form the visual centrepiece of the event as the art gallery’s full collection of paintings will be removed, exposing the performer and instrument against a backdrop of bare walls.

Kjartansson speaks of the performance as ‘an ode to the transformation of space’, the dramatic visual change brought about by the removal of the gallery’s paintings allowing for a greater focus on the organ.

Although he had a solo exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2016-17, this will be Kjartansson’s first commission for a UK public collection. Karen MacKinnon, Director and Curator of Artes Mundi, says, ‘we are really excited about extending Artes Mundi’s legacy and fuelling a ‘portal to international art’ here in Wales.’


‘The Sky in a Room’ will be shown at the National Museum Cardiff from 3 February to 11 March 2018. More information about the event can be found here.