Ragnar Kjartansson’s Forever Love: Trees and Longing

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve revealed piecemeal details about the arts component of our festival. Today I’m thrilled to introduce the centerpiece of that element: The world premiere of Forever Love, a work by renowned Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson.

Commissioned by Eaux Claires, Forever Love will serve as the official starting point of the festival on both Friday and Saturday. Blending visual and performance art with live music, the piece is a collaborative song cycle written and performed with Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner from The National, alongside Icelandic artists Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, formerly of the Icelandic band múm.

If you haven’t experienced a live or recorded work from Ragnar, let me explain why I am so eager to witness his Eaux Claires offering: When I saw his work The Visitors in Bilbao, the experience was transformative. He’s quickly become one of the most important figures in the contemporary art world as his performances, drawings, paintings, and video installations toy with the lines between reality and fiction.

Forever Love marks a live performance reunion for The Dessner twins and Kjartansson, as both artists recently collaborated on a six-hour video work, A Lot of Sorrow, which documents The National performing their three and a half minute song, “Sorrow,” for six hours in front of a live audience at MoMA’s PS1 performance space. Here’s what Aaron said when we asked him about the process of working with Ragnar in the past and present:

“We were so amused by Ragnar’s suggestion to play “Sorrow” for six hours straight without stopping that we said yes. It turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in the history of the National. The performance was at turns sad, hilarious, exhausting, deeply moving and cathartic. The song took on other shapes and meanings through the hours. Justin, Michael and I were hopeful Ragnar would be inspired to dream up something new for Eaux Claires. Fortunately he had a vision of twins singing songs about love, loss and longing in the breeze, amidst the trees, by the water. Songs for a summer day. Songs for Eaux Claires.” -Aaron Dessner

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We’re excited and humbled by the opportunity to work with all of the artists affiliated with the first-ever Eaux Claires festival, and we’re furthermore honored to bring world-class art to our own Chippewa Valley.

Thank you for sharing that experience with us. We’ll share more soon…

– Michael Brown, Creative Director

 
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