Hirshhorn Plaza

Woman in E, 2016

Woman in E, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.
Originally presented and organized by the Museum of
Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, Michigan
Photo Andrew Miller.

Click here for a full list of the performers

Woman in E features a woman dressed in a gold gown, standing on a rotating pedestal, playing solitary E-minor chords on an electric guitar, vibrations reverberating through a room of glittering tinsel. On display all day, every day of the exhibition’s 12-week run, the work features a rotating cast of Washington-area musicians. E-minor is a universal chord of melancholy, one particularly suited to expressions of wistfulness and brooding lovesickness. Kjartansson carries the key of E-minor to immersive hyperbole with Woman in E, an installation that walks a characteristic line of earnestness and caricature. An E-minor chord rings out in endless repetition from within a dazzling tinselled environment, its performer rotating slowly like an idol upon her pedestal. Employing kitsch in a similar fashion to his earlier work God, Kjartansson’s Woman in E activates associations with traditional figurative sculpture and objectified notions of femininity. But the female performer here is ultimately powerful, as her audience is allowed to indulge in the melodrama of her evocative performance.