The Visitors (installation)

The Visitors is a 2012 installation and video art piece created by Ragnar Kjartansson. Kjartansson named the piece for The Visitors, the final album by the Swedish pop band ABBA. The piece was commissioned by the Migros Museum in Zurich, and was one of the museum's inaugural exhibits.[1][2] The premiere of the piece marked Kjartansson's first solo show in Switzerland.

The Visitors
ArtistRagnar Kjartansson
TypeInstallation art; video art
LocationShown in several places, including The Broad and The Guggenheim


The Visitors constitutes the performance of a song written by Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Kjartansson's ex-wife. The piece is displayed across nine different screens, each featuring musicians or artists either by themselves or in groups in different rooms of a house, or outside, performing simultaneously but separately.[3] One screen features Kjartansson by himself. Others featured in the piece include friends of Kjartansson, both from the artist's native Reykjavík and elsewhere, as well as residents of Rokeby Farm, where the piece was filmed.


The piece was originally shown at the Migros Museum in Switzerland, and premiered in the United States in early 2013 at the Luhring Augustine Gallery. The piece has since been displayed in several museums around the world, including The Broad[4] in Los Angeles, The Guggenheim[5] in Bilbao, the Institute of Contemporary Art[6] in Boston, the Turner House Gallery[1] in Penarth, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden[7] in Washington, D.C., the Frist Center for the Visual Arts[8] in Nashville, Tennessee, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,[9] and the Phoenix Art Museum.[10]


The piece was filmed at Rokeby Farm, located in upstate New York, near Barrytown. Rokeby is a home and estate that at one point belonged to the Astor family, and later the Livingston family.[11] The property is now inhabited by various descendants of both families, and other tenants.[11] The property was the site of an earlier 2007 piece by Kjartansson, titled The Blossoming Trees Performance, during which he recorded himself as a plein-air painter for two days. The estate has also been used by other artists, due to the unique interiors of the main house on the property.[3][11]


The piece has been positively reviewed, with critics highlighting Kjartansson's focus on repetition, a recurring theme in his performances.[3][12]

In September 2019, The Guardian ranked The Visitors first in their Best Art of the 21st Century list, with critic Adrian Searle calling it "a kind of extended farewell to romanticism".[13]


  1. Crichton-Miller, Emma (13 November 2014). "Artes Mundi: international art in Cardiff". Apollo Magazine. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  2. "Ragnar Kjartansson: «The Visitors»". The Migros Museum. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  3. Sheets, Hilarie M. (2 January 2013). "Never Tiring of Repeating Himself". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  4. "Ragnar Kjartansson". The Broad. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  5. "Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors". Guggenheim Museum. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  6. Smee, Sebastian (24 July 2014). "Hipster musicians in a video masterpiece". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  7. "Ragnar Kjartansson – The Visitors, 2012". Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  8. "Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors". The Frist Center for the Visual Arts. 18 November 2016.
  9. "Soundtracks". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  10. "Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain". Phoenix Art Museum. 3 November 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  11. Green, Penelope (21 July 2010). "The House Inherited Them". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  12. Mobilio, Albert (16 March 2013). "Go with the Slow: Ragnar Kjartansson's "The Visitors"". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  13. "The best art of the 21st century". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
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