Santa Barbara – A Living Sculpture by Ragnar Kjartansson


The project by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson takes the form of a living sculpture, created for the GES-2 House of Culture.

The first American soap opera in Russia and the longest in the history of its television, Santa Barbara heralded a cultural phenomena of the post-Soviet space of the 1990s: the influx of imported melodramas. The population entered the unsettling world of consumer culture through Santa Barbara, relying on the emotional experience they acquired watching it. The serial as a phenomenon has arguably played a major role in the cultural history of contemporary Russia.

The artistic method of Ragnar Kjartansson revolves around theatricality and ritual and their common feature — repetition and playback. His works include performances, films, musical works, paintings and drawings. In his new creation, Kjartansson combines his interest in exploring the role of the past in the present with the restaging of scores and scripts to conjure up the experience of emotional symbols and attachments.

With this monumental work, Ragnar Kjartansson pays homage to Russian culture and its passion for the ability of art, fiction and theatre to convey emotions. Re-staging a fundamental part of the 1990s social and cultural landscape produces a collectively constructed, live history painting.

– Francesco Manacorda, artistic director of V–A–C Foundation

Under Kjartansson’s direction, a professional film crew headed by director Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir will stage, shoot and release about 100 episodes of the soap opera in Russian. The shooting of each episode needs to be completed in a day. Actors (professionals and amateurs) will work as though they were in a theatre: all the scenes will be shot in a single take. The sets, costumes and props of each episode reproduce those used in the original serial.

By re-shooting series after series without stopping at a venue open to the public, Kjartansson will compose a kind of large-scale historical painting that turns into a live performative sculpture. The challenge of such a titanic endeavor is largely determined by Kjartansson’s interest in how situations and emotions are transformed over time, and how transformations can suddenly lead to the emergence of an emotional community.

Ragnar Kjartansson’s sketch for the Santa Barbara living sculpture

In the grandiose set, all the mechanisms of the theatre and film industry will function as a spectacular dynamic sculpture, synchronizing the past with the present and the future. Kjartansson’s Santa Barbara is also a reflection of the influence of fiction on history, modernity and reality. The pervasiveness of fabricated events, the multiplicity of pseudo-realities — all the signs of today’s mass media that are addressed in the performance become the starting point of the narrative of the Holy Barbarians programme.

Ragnar Kjartansson draws on the entire arc of art in his performative practice. The history of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature find their way into his video installations, durational performances, drawing and painting. Pretending and staging become key tools in the artist’s attempt to convey sincere emotion and offer a genuine experience to the audience.
Kjartansson’s work has been widely exhibited. Recent solo exhibitions and performances have been held at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Barbican Art Gallery in London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, Reykjavik Art Museum, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and New Museum in New York. Kjartansson represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale, and in 2013 his work was featured at the Biennale’s main exhibition, The Encyclopedic Palace. Kjartansson was born in 1976 in Reykjavík and studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and The Royal Academy, Stockholm.

Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir

Staging and production
Lorem Ipsum

Creative Directors
Abigail Honor, Yan Vizinberg

Maria Boyarintseva, Chris Cooper, Ivan Oleinik

Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

Based on the series originally created by Bridget and Jerome Dobson

Twentieth Century Fox Television
All rights reserved


Mila Avgust
Mary Duvall

Ekaterina Bessmertnaya
Amy Perkins

Gleb Degtyarev
Warren Lockridge

Oleg Demidov

Ivan Grishenkov
Steve Bassett

Aleksandra Ilves
Eden Capwell

Yan Ilves
Brick Wallace

Sergey Ivanyuk
Mason Capwell

Klaudia Kain
Julia Wainwright

Viktor Kharitonov
Kirk Cranston

Vladislav Knyazev
Ted Capwell

Pavel Kuzmin
Jack Lee

Anna Lavrova
Santana Andrade

Vladimir Lositsky
Brandon Demott Capwell

Konstantin Mishin
Lionel Lockridge

Anastasia Morgun
Santana Andrade

Anastasia Nemets
Augusta Lockridge

Kristina Novikova
Laken Lockridge

Valery Pankov
Jack Lee

Viktoria Savina
Sophia Capwell

Leonid Semenov
Dylan Hartley

Dmitry Severin
Ted Capwell

Aleksander Shamaev
Brandon Demott Capwell

Evgenia Shipova
Gina Capwell

Diana Shulmina
Christy Duvall

Aleksey Takharov
Cruz Castillo

Yury Tarasenko
Nick Hartley

Sergey Tessler
Mason Capwell

Mikhail Troynik
Steve Bassett

Mila Avgust
Mary Duvall

Evgeny Andrachnikov, Nadezhda Azorkina, Aleksey Burlakov, Konstantin Bogdanov, Mikhail Efimov, Diana Evdokimova, Mikhail Gorsky, Andrey Gusev, Veronika Idrisova, Tatiana Ilminskykh, Natalia Inkina, Anastasia Ischenko, Yasmin Ismail, Alexander Kalugin, Snezhana Kandina, Varvara Karpunina, Miriam Khomskaya, Natalia Klyuzheva, Roman Lide, Natalia Mabruki, Adam Mikhailov, Maksim Nedelko, Elena Petrova, Vasilisa Petrova, Alexander Popov, Inna Romanova, Aleksandra Samoylova, Anastasia Sazonova, Alexey Schelakovsky, Ekaterina Serebryakova, Maria Shamshina, Larisa Shatilo, Pavel Shestoperov, Elena Sitnikova, Nina Smirnova, Anastasia Sorokina, Arina Surovtseva, Viktoria Taranets, Nikolay Tarasov, Viktor Vinogradov

Project team

Production Managers:
Alexandra Belousova, Alexandra Krasnova, Valeria Ostroumova

Episode Directors:
Artemiy Dragunsky, Yury Odnopozov

Director of Photography:
Grigory Voronov

Production Designer:
Andrey Ponkratov

Art Director:
Pavel Erko

Graphic Designers:
Dmitry Kalmykov, Leonid Turchenyuk, Sergey Zaytsev

Lead Technical Director:
Elisey Radionov

Technical Directors:
Nikolay Belokonov, Alexander Nigmatullin

Lead Architect:
Sofia Zenina

Kristina Shleverda, Maria Onuchina, Roman Shashin

CG/3D Supervisor:
Tatiana Sever

3D Modelers:
Alexander Orlov, Stanislav Svistov

First Assistant Directors:
Nina Bruni, Maya Kolikova

Live Director:
Yury Kondratyuk

Casting Directors:
Maria Bombina, Maria Sudnitsyna

Casting Assistants:
Anastasia Ovchinnikovа, Alyona Tsedilina

Costume Designer:
Elena Vlasova, Maria Yuresko

Props and Set Design:
Elena Chernova, Sergey Dzyarsky, Igor Nurgaliev, Grigory Sdobnov

Sergey Ivanischev

Stanislav Zakharkin

Sergey Novikov, Alexander Zakharov

Set Painters:
Igor Glevkin, Vitaly Rudenko, Daniil Shatrov

Camera Operator:
Alexey Shaulsky

Natalia Alyoshina, Svetlana Pogulyayeva, Natalia Titorenko

Make-up and Hair Department:
Maria Barabanova, Elena Dmitrienko, Kristina Evtyushina, Ekaterina Likhachyova, Polina Shabaeva, Kira Vashurina

Sound Recordists:
Pavel Kiselev, Maksim Surin

Alexey Kestner

Dmitry Mukhachev

Legal Counsel:
Mikhail Belkin

Commissioned by V–A–C Foundation

Maria Kramar, Ekaterina Krupennikova, Francesco Manacorda

Ksenia Lukina, Ksenia Makshantseva

Olesya Voronina, Lyosha Kritsouk, Stepan Lipatov

Technical Production:
Artem Kanifatov, Nikita Korovin

Sasha Anikushin, Vlad Kolesnikov, Victoria Kuzmina

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