04w18:1 Matthew Barney

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 18 number 1 (Matthew Barney)

Those of us on the list from Toronto will understand why this post is all about Matthew Barney and his Cremaster Cycle, since the AGO’s Jackman Hall has made the talk of the town all about the screenings, which began on Friday and continue next week. The decision to send out an issue on him was prompted by reading a review in yesterday’s National Post, which unfortunately is not included here because they have the article *for sale* on their website, which only makes me shake my head in disgust rather than reach for my wallet. Lucky for us, an even better review is available from Sarah Milroy at the Globe and Mail.

There is another review, slightly irreverent in nature, that was written by yours truly two years ago for the Instant Coffee Saturday Edition, after seeing two of the films as part of that year’s Images Festival; and this marks the first time I’ve ever included some of my own thoughts in the Goodreads list. – Tim


The art of the male mystique | Sarah Milroy
“When people look back at the work of the American artist Matthew Barney in 100 years time — and they will, Barney being one of the signal artists of our times — you have to wonder what they will make of it. His Cremaster Cycle is an epic series of five films, and it is nothing short of hallucinatory, a seven-hour-long immersion in one of the most dazzling imaginations any of us is likely to come up against any time soon. […] Barney places himself at the centre of this investigation; the films, made between 1994 and 2000, are self-portraiture on an epic scale…”

Nurture boy | Katy Siegel
“It’s mildly annoying that so many reviews and articles about Matthew Barney’s work begin in a confessional mode, with a ritual throwing up of hands. (Aren’t critics supposed to use their expertise to help us engage difficult work?) But it’s also understandable. The ‘Cremaster’ series layers biology and history, multiplies and divides; like any thick, opaque text, it drives the critic either to wax vaguely lyrical or to perform iconographic contortions, numerology, advanced exegesis. But beneath all these spectacular particulars (and with work like this, you always run the risk of the artist rolling his eyeballs at your ‘insights’), the art revolves around a fundamental conflict. Matthew Barney is better than you – and he’s sorry. His studio feels like a high school woodshop, and he dresses down, not in the worker drag of the artist flaunting his machismo, but rather in the T-shirt-and-jeans camouflage of the seriously above-average guy. Writers often note, with varying degrees of suspicion, his aw-shucks reluctance to claim the public sphere, to play the part of the great artist in either the sullen or the glamorous mold. Barney is elaborately nice, despite the fact that he is much better looking than you, much more successful, a much better artist with a much more interesting life (inner as well as outer, apparently). At the same time, he obviously has a riotous urge to excel, to succeed, to play and act in the world. The clash of these contrary, impulses – reticence and self-assertion – is central to his work.”

Cremaster 1 & 4 | Timothy Comeau
http://www.instantcoffee.org/saturday/issue7/index.html#tenten (scroll down a bit)
“I feel that Barney’s films benefit from their exclusivity, by the fact that we’ve all read about them, but not all had the chance to see them. Like the dream sequence in the Big Liebowski, they would become trivial rather quickly if Barney exposed their ambiguous symbolism and made them available at Blockbuster. Movies with line-ups rule, cause at that point they’re an event. These two had quite a lineup, and participating in this must see aspect I found more enjoyable than the films, which were mediocre.” Article Date: May 2002

Master of ceremony | Daniel Birnbaum
“BAYREUTH CAN WAIT: Matthew Barney’s CREMASTER cycle is a Wagnerian vision for the new millennium. It started, in CREMASTER 4, 1994, with a tap-dancing freak–half glitzy performer, half goat–dressed in white. With great care, the soft hands of three monstrous muses attached prosthetic gadgets to his elegant shoes–not since the early Andy Warhol has an artist spent so much energy on footwear. And it’s not only shoes in the traditional sense that play a central role in Barney’s work, it’s strange devices attached to the feet, tools for ritualistic practices and occult communication. In CREMASTER 3, 2002 (the recently debuted, last-to-be-realized installment of the pentalogy), a woman with crystal legs is suddenly transformed into a catlike creature, possibly in heat; a lovely lady with blades on her feet dices a roomful of potatoes, for reasons that will remain forever obscure; an elderly enchantress secretly lifts ceremonial instruments with her toes. Surely one way to enter Barney’s work is through the rich world of fetishism.”

matthew barney versus donkey kong | Wayne Bremser
“Despite the popularity of the Cremaster films, only a small percentage of museumgoers have ever seen an art film. After twenty-five years of cultural relevance, video games still do not have a serious place in museums and galleries. Cremaster 3 is important not only because it has attracted a wider audience to an art film, but also because it is one of the first works of contemporary art to incorporate video game narrative. […]Both Barney’s Entered Apprentice and Mario climb structures modified from what architects have intended. In the Chrysler Building Barney ascends the elevator shaft, which exposes the building’s innards. In the rivets degree of Donkey Kong, Mario must climb around an exposed, unfinished structure, walking over rivets to remove them. The perfect disorder of the titled girders in the ramps degree of Donkey Kong, transformed by an enormous jumping ape, match the perfect order of the ramps in Guggenheim rotunda, created by the most famous American architect. A climbing rig allows Barney to scale the rotunda, bypassing the ramps.”

Matthew Barney Needs Slaves | Gawker.com
“Wanna work for 20 hours a week — for no payment whatsoever — for Matthew Barney, one of the top-grossing artists in the world? On the plus side, you might have some good Bjork sightings — on the minus side, she might beat you down like that Thai reporter.”

Long links made short by using TinyURL (http://www.tinyurl.com)
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emailed by Timothy on Sunday 25 April 2004 @ 2:28 PM

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