In a very dark room, a person sits alone on a round pedestal. A circular light hangs overhead. He is surrounded by hundreds of individual audio speakers, barely visible in the darkness.

Jónsi, Hrafntinna (Obsidian), 2021. Sixteen-channel sound installation, chandelier, speakers, subwoofers, carpet, fossilized amber scent. Dimensions variable, diameter of installed speakers: Overall: 1061.7 cm. Running Time: 25 mins. 33 secs. Purchase, with funds by exchange from Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Conn, Hellenic Canadian Cultural Society, Jessie and Percy Waxer, Ontario Heritage Foundation, Women's Committee in memory of Lady Kemp, its first president, Howard Burnham, Professor James Mavor, Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Strudley, Stratford, Ontario, Mr. and Mrs. Neville Burston, Douglas M. Duncan, Leon Katz, E.R. Rolph, Toronto Press Club, Joseph Alfred Whealy, Canadian National Exhibition Association, and Massey Foundation, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles. Photo by Pierre Le Hors. 2021/1321.

Jónsi: Hrafntinna (Obsidian)

July 22, 2022 - August 7, 2023

Located on Level 2 in the Signy Eaton Gallery

Admission is always FREE for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass Holders & Visitors 25 and under. Learn more.


Icelandic artist Jónsi rose to international acclaim as a member of the band Sigur Rós, and he has since expanded his genre-breaking musical approach into the visual arts.

Hrafntinna (Obsidian),(2021) is an experiential installation full of longing and appreciation for the Nordic landscape that powerfully demonstrates how non-visual senses can transport audiences to different places or trigger different memories.

Through sound, reverberation, smell and lighting, the artist evokes the sensation of being inside a volcano. Unable to witness the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland in spring 2021 due to the pandemic, Jónsi has imagined this unique event as a sixteen-channel composition, played across 195 speakers, accompanied by a sweet and smoky scent. Overhead, a single circular light alludes to the summit of the volcano, out of which sound and smell spill like lava, speaking to the intimate poetry of knowing or understanding a place through sense and memory.

Hrafntinna (Obsidian) is the world premiere of Jónsi’s artwork in a museum.

This installation is experiential in nature and features low lighting, scents, sound reverberations, and occasional flashing lights. Visitors with sensory-processing difficulties should exercise caution. For the best experience, visitors are encouraged to enter the circle of speakers and sit on the bench. Please do not walk around the perimeter of the circle.


Over the past two decades, Jónsi has collaborated with musicians, visual artists and filmmakers to create a robust body of work across disciplines. Working with such leading creative figures as Doug Aitken, Cameron Crowe, Merce Cunningham, Olafur Eliasson and Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Jónsi’s artistic collaborations have resulted in prestigious awards and critical acclaim.

Born in Iceland in 1975, Jón Þór "Jónsi” Birgisson lives and works in Los Angeles.


Video by Flys Eye Films
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

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