As part of a new series of contemporary installations, The Met presents the world premiere of a major new work: Death Is Elsewhere (2019), a seven-channel video installation by the acclaimed Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. Provocatively rethinking the possibilities for performance and video art, Kjartansson makes work in which he simultaneously evokes Romantic clichés while using irony, nihilism, and absurdity to undermine them.
Death Is Elsewhere is the most recent in a series of durational performance-based works in which a single song is performed without beginning or end, in a nearly continuous loop. Filmed around the time of the summer solstice shortly after midnight in southern Iceland, Death Is Elsewhere features male and female pairs of twins (Kjartansson's frequent collaborators: the musicians Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the National), performing the title song against a landscape of sublime natural beauty, as they move continuously across seven screens, encircling the viewer. Despite the idyllic setting and dulcet song, the specter of death is omnipresent.