Romantic songs of the Patriarchy

Photograph by Quinn Gravier

Photograph by Quinn Gravier


At the invitation of C Project the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson explored the sites and neighborhoods of San Francisco, investigating the myriad buildings and landscapes for a performance that would respond to the unique conditions of the city.  The selection of the landmark The Women's Building in the Mission District was inspired as much by the people that occupy and direct this remarkable center for women as by the striking presence of the mural titled MaestraPeace that envelopes both the exterior and interior hall and staircase.  Considering the building's function as a safe space for women to get health, social and legal advice and services, Kjartansson conceived of Romantic Songs of the Partriachy, a three day durational performance where over thirty female musicians play the guitar and sing throughout the public spaces that make up the building.

Selecting a wide range of songs written by men (and a few by women), Kjartansson's choreography reveals the subtle (and not so subtle) ways in which many of our most popular and widely-loved melodies contain lyrics that range from sexual insinuation to abject objectification. As with much of Kjartansson's work in live musical performance, theater and film, Romantic Songs of the Partriachy engages the audience with a double-edged humor and seriousness, utilizing duration and repetition, presenting the viewer with a mesmerizing encounter.  As with The Women's Building's colorful mural, Romantic Songs of the Partriachy is conceived as a many-cultural, multi-generational collaboration with women from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  For the artist, the mash-up of songs into a spatial sonic chorale is both charmingly seductive and darkly oppressive.  

Tom Eccles, Curator

The performers

Alexandra Iranfar
Alfa Garcia
Annabelle Marie
Anne Carol Mitchell
BiankA AlloyN
Carly Bond
Diana Gameros
Gabby Campitelli
Gabi Díaz-Hernández
Gracia Logue-Sargeant
Jackie Gage
Jules Indelicato
Kat White
Katiana Vila
Katie Cash
Kelly McFarling
Kelsey Shell
Kendra McKinley
Laila Williams
Laura Weinbach
Laurie Lewis
Lilie Bytheway-Hoy
Madeline Tasquin
Marissa Deitz
Monica Fimbrez
Odessa Chen
Paige Clem
Scheherazade Stone
Valerie Jay
Yuriza Jared


Musical director and arrangements: Kjartan Sveinsson

Bandleader and arrangements: Kendra McKinley

The Songs

He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)
Gerry Goffin and Carole King

Girl you'll be a woman soon
Neil Diamond

Run for your life

Bruce Springsteen

Only women bleed
Alice Cooper and Dick Wagner

Every Breath you Take

Wives and lovers
Burt Bacharach and Hal David

When you say nothing at all
Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz

Under my Thumb
Jagger and Richards

Love Me
Lil Wayne, Drake, Future, and Asheton Hogan

Love The Way You Lie Part II
Alexander Grant, Holly Hafermann, Marshall Mathers

Boys will be boys
Jolyon Skinner, Renn

Tonight's the night
Rod Stewart

Blurred Lines
Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, Clifford Harris Jr.

A Guy is a Guy
Oscar Brand

When Your Heart Is Weak
Peter Kingsbery

She’s Always a woman
Billy Joel

Trent Reznor

Wild World
Cat Stevens

Si Te Cojo
Ismael Rivera

No te Atrevas
Benny More

Lo Mejor De Tu Vida
Manuel Alejandro and Marian Beigbeder

Hey mama
Bebe Rexha, Ester Dean, Sean Douglas and Nicki Minaj

Stand By your Man
Billy Sherrill and Tammy Wynette

Propuesta Indecente
Romeo Santos

Thank you

Carla Emil is thrilled to have worked with Ragnar Kjartansson and his talented team.  Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

Lilja Gunnarsdóttir - Studio manager and producer

Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir - Artistic advisor

Logi Leó Gunnarsson - Musical advisor

And Carla sends her appreciation to her wonderful team for all of their work on this amazing project. The titles below can’t even begin to describe the various roles they filled.

Michele Schlicht - Project Manager

Denise Goldstein - Visitor Services

Abby Margulies - Public Relations

Megan Ardery - Public Relations

Lucy Redoglia - Digital Consultant

Barclay Keir – Casting Associate