Ragnar Kjartansson’s An Die Musik in the new Kunsthalle, Zürich

Greetings from Zürich. The Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson has installed a team of eight opera singers (including himself) and ten pianists in two rooms of an art gallery to do marathon continuous performance of Franz Schubert’s 1817 song An Die Musik to words by Franz von Schober. The song celebrates and thanks art for enabling an escape from the “wilder Kreis” (wild orbit) of everyday life.

The official performances start tomorrow and happen over five of the subsequent eight days.In one room (above) there are two singer-pianist duos in full evening dress, performing at a slight delay from each other while people wander round the gallery with their glasses of wine.

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The performance is site-specific, and is taking place in the brand new Migros Museum for Contemporary Art. It marks the opening of the new Löwenbräu-Areal, already generally (and I am told inaccurately) known as the Kunsthalle – in the rapidly renewing, former industrial area of Zurich-West. The artist describes it as “a homage to the new exhibition rooms”

In cycle racing they call this kind of thing a Madison, a gruelling marathon six-day race, originating in Madison Square Garden, and now popular from Berlin to Bendigo in Victoria, Australia. Having heard it, and shamelessly cribbing the programme notes…you could also think of it as tech-free/ unplugged looping.

An Die Musik by Ragnar Kartjansson, Zurich, 10th – 17th June. I am in Zürich as the guest of Stadt Zürich

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