Campaign of the Week: Ragnar Kjartansson at National Museum Cardiff

In 2015 Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson was awarded the Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award for his video installation The Visitors, which was shortlisted for the biannual international art prize Artes Mundi 6 in Cardiff. The Award gave the National Museum Cardiff and Artes Mundi £30,000 to co-commission a work by Ragnar to be part of the National Museum Wales’ permanent collection. Ragnar Kjartansson created the performance The Sky in a Room, where a team of revolving organists performed the 1960s hit Italian pop song Il Cielo in una Stanza (The Sky in a Room), on the 1774 Sir Watkin Williams Wynn chamber organ permanently installed in National Museum Cardiff non-stop for six hours a day, six days a week for five weeks.

In November 2017 Midas PR announced the exhibition as a news story, positioning the exhibition as Ragnar Kjartansson’s “return to Wales”, and also the first time an original performance by him would have a worldwide premier in the UK. We also used this as an opportunity to secure a press trip for a journalist to fly out to Reykjavik and interview Ragnar in an exclusive interview with a national newspaper.

Ragnar’s availability for press was limited in the lead up to the exhibition, so Midas also focused on securing interviews and news stories about the acquisition of the work. National Museum Wales now owns The Sky in a Room, which allowed us to position the acquisition of a site-specific performance art work as a “trend” within the art market.

For the opening of the exhibition, Midas liaised with key broadcasting outlets and nationals newspapers gaging their interest in reviewing the show, and interviewing Ragnar, Artes Mundi Director Karen MacKinnon, National Museum Wales Head of Fine & Contemporary Art Nicholas Thornton at the press view.

For the announcement of the exhibition in November, Midas secured news stories in The Evening Standard and across high circulation digital arts media including ARTNews, It’s Nice That and The Art Newspaper.

For previews, the exhibition went into Will Gompertz’s 2018 Art Diary on BBC Arts Online, and also in The Guardian’s Unmissable Culture 2018. Previews also ran in Observer, Guardian Guide, The i newspaper, Financial Times, i-D, Tatler, World of Interiors, Aesthetica, ArtDaily, e-flux, Widewalls Magazine and BBC Music Magazine.

 Midas secured a double page interview with Ragnar in The Daily Telegraph, and a double page feature on the acquisition of the performance in The Times, with an interview with Nicholas Thornton. The Art Newspaper also ran a news story with comment from Nicholas Thornton about the acquisition.

At the press view, The Guardian and The i newspaper reviewed the exhibition at the press view, both giving it five stars. Monocle Radio and Global Radio interviewed Ragnar, Karen, Nicholas and the organists, and RAI TV, the major news network in Italy, filmed the performance for a segment on culture in Cardiff.

Finally, Ragnar was interviewed on BBC World: Arts Hour during the run of the exhibition, and was also interviewed by arts online magazines Floorr Magazine and 52 Insights.

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