Ragnar Kjartansson wins Performa’s first Malcolm Award New York

November 23, 2011

PERFORMA11, the fourth edition of the New York-based performance art biennial founded by RoseLee Goldberg, celebrated its closing on Monday night at the Bowery Hotel.

During the festivities, the inaugural Malcolm award was presented to Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, reports Artinfo.

The $10,000 award, created by Performa curator Mark Beasly, pays tribute to the late British punk icon and cultural provocateur Malcolm McLaren, who passed away in 2010. According to a Performa press release, the prize will be awarded at each biennial to an artist aged 40 or younger who has “demonstrated the most innovative and thought-provoking performance during the three-week biennial.”

Kjartansson’s winning work Bliss was performed to great acclaim at the AbronsArtsCenter on Saturday, November 19. The 12-hour performance was a sort of “Mozart marathon,” a half-day continuous loop of the final aria from The Marriage of Figaro performed by professional opera singers. Over the past few years, the affable Kjartansson has achieved international recognition for his durational live and videotaped performances incorporating popular and classical musical motifs.

During the awards ceremony, tributes to McLaren were offered by his longtime companion Young Kim, “Lipstick Traces” author Greil Marcus, and British writer Michael Bracewell. Lou Reed, the iconic frontman of the Velvet Underground, presented the award to Kjartansson, who gave a brief speech of thanks before lifting it overhead.

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