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DC Musicians To Star in 12-Week Live Artwork

Opening Oct. 14, Monumental “Woman in E” Performance Is Centerpiece of Ragnar Kjartansson Exhibition

October 5, 2016

Fourteen Washington-area musicians have been chosen to star in Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Woman in E,” a spellbinding live musical performance that is the centerpiece of the artist’s upcoming first major U.S. survey at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. On display all day, every day of the exhibition’s 12-week run (Oct. 14–Jan. 8, 2017), “Woman in E” is the first chance for Hirshhorn audiences to experience long-duration performance art.

Selected by the artist from more than 80 applicants, the rotating cast of 14 women for “Woman in E” embody Washington’s vibrant music scene, representing a diversity of local bands and musical styles. Visit the Hirshhorn’s website for a full list of performers.

One of the most celebrated performance artists working today, Kjartansson is known for creating witty and poignant immersive installations that are equal parts endurance, performance, sculpture and cinema. Inspired by the music and theater scene in Reykjavik, Iceland, Kjartansson frequently collaborates with noted musicians to create performances lasting hours, days or weeks.

“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. The woman embodies multiple stereotypes—a goddess, a siren, an idol—at once a nod to classical sculpture and a reclaiming of cultural ideals of femininity.

The exhibition “Ragnar Kjartansson” is conceived and organized by the Barbican, London in association with the Hirshhorn.

Fall Fest

Nine of the Washington-based, female-fronted bands will be playing on the museum’s plaza Saturday, Oct. 22, for Hirshhorn’s Fall Fest, a free, daylong festival.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, works on paper, mixed-media installations and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit


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Ragnar Kjartansson, “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 by Andrew Miller

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Allison Peck
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Woman in gold dress holding guitar on dais