Matthew Barney: C/D?

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I don't fucking get it. It looks like a perfume ad with token "weird stuff" ripped directly from the pages of Vogue. Oooh maybe that's "the point". Well it's stupid point.

1. Is there a narrative to any of the Cremaster movies

2. Does it make any fucking difference?

Tracer Hand, Friday, 29 June 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I saw the Gary Gilmore one with my friend Rae: it has a narrative (kinda). Some of it went on too long — as a pop fan and shill for corporate mono-culture i have zero patience - but some of it was fantastic, looks-wise esp. He has money and can pay for imself: the avant gardist's DREAM, except actually what he needs is — sometimes, like all "artists" — someone from the top office coming down and saying, "How will this play in Des Moines: our focus group says MORE NARRATIVE AND LESS VOGUE" [insert preferred improvement strategy).

We had planned to see three in a row — but it was like 2 in the morning already, so we went home instead. Better than the Mummy = last film I saw with Rae.

mark s, Friday, 29 June 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Didn't think he was much more than an art side-show, something ridiculous and outrageous to invest in (an art market commodity), till I saw OTT Shaft in a gallery. It worked watching the film in 'his' space, an antiseptic locker room, shrunk down by the outscaled sculptures, like Oldenburg's objects, but these were far from everyday, so though not as subtly freakish, the room was still 'somewhere else'. Canvas fetish, athletic performance art, obsessions about disabled sports hero, yes it is all too much, it's contrived, still I'm intregued. And I'd rather preserve that than look into the narratives.

K-reg, Friday, 29 June 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Normally I encourage the undermining of expectation. Not w/Cremaster and I think it is the money. I can't get around it. It is the MAIN message that I come away with - not "the beauty of ugliness" or Up With slightly bestial polymorphous sexuality or the hidden dullness of Ursula Andress. I walk away singing "heyyy big spender..."

What were they ABOUT? I think art contributes nothing, and in fact makes people feel less connected to each other, unless it's possible to discuss a MEANING to a movie over coffee afterwards. Even someone as oblique as Sophie Calle or something as disjointed as "Tetsuo: Iron Man" conjures all kinds of discussion. Matthew Barney seems to seal it off - cd it be because he is AFRAID that people will find out he is a narcissist who actually has no idea how to do much of anything besides spend money?

And: why do I care? Because I'm jealous.

Tracer Hand, Friday, 29 June 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

About: well, bees and glaciermelt and Gary Gilmore = I don't really know. I wanted to go read THE EXECUTIONERS SONG (I've only read SHOT IN THE HEART) and then I wanted to go and see it again. What it really really acutely reminded me of — first link = glaciermelt — was poems by J. H. Prynne: extreme density, weird slippage, sense of meaning just off out of reach, tugging at you. There IS a problem here: a pome you can read ten million times having paid just once if at all, and Cremaster is spensive even twice — and yes, I don't believe Barney considers that for a second — but letting it be the overriding whatever is, well, yes, Sour Grapes in the Classic Sense: I don't get it = what's to get.

mark s, Friday, 29 June 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yes - it can't be stared at, endlessly, as Barney would doubtlessly have preferred. It can be stared at once, and he does a good job of investing his ethereal imagery with a sense of moment and gravity, but there is no story, so nothing to expect, so no audience-struggle or engagement, deflation or elation, comeuppance, abdication, heroism, or any of the things that I want from a movie - and nothing to justify his Pomp. It's all expensive nouns and adverbs, but zero "action", in the sense of a character or even abstract idea accomplishing something, anything. There's a typically brazen and provocative quote from David Mamet that I sypathize with and whose extremity I excuse him from, since it is on a subject so dear to his heart (and mine):

"The best production takes place in the mind of the beholder. We, as an audience, are much better off with a sign that says A BLASTED HEATH, than with all the brilliant cinematography in the world. To say 'brilliant cinematography' is to say 'He made the trains run on time.'

Witness the rather fascistic trend in cinema in the last [two decades. directorial strategies mamet describes have only deepened and been normalized in years since this essay was written in mid-80s].

Q: How'd you like the movie?

A: Fantastic cinematography.

...The question we have ceased to ask is, 'What was the fantastic or brilliant cinematography in aid of?'"

In pop, such questions are rarely relevant (and shurely exciting when they are), but with film I have the minimum expectation of a story, or of a set of questions, that I can identify or at least guess at. When the care paid to imagery and sound design so far supersedes any attempt by the audience to at least use their imaginations to cover this yawning void, I feel not just boredom as I would with any old shaggy dog story but irritation at these ludicrous tries at distracting me, these attempts to inure me against giving a shit about anything but the - hey presto! - solidity of Barney's daydreams.

Maybe this belongs in the "overproduction: a mark of our time?" thread, in which I either have argued or would be arguing the exact opposite...

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The above posted just after coming out of "A.I."....

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

AI: oh dear. Well, you are excused yr own extremity in that case!!!! Whenever House of Games comes on TV I watch it — but not for Mamet's dead-dud fuck-you wooden production (or smug not-as-clever-as-he- thinks dialogue), but instead for the look and moves of fabby Lindsay Crouse, then his wife, now no, who = v.undervalued actress last seen in Buffy running the initiative (and wasted there, the only wrong Joss Whedon ever did anyone)... Mamet naturally bigs up words-words-words in movies cuz he gets paid to write em: pity he's not better at the job he gets paid to do (ps I kno nothing abt theatre where he may indeed be godlike).

mark s, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Well, watching some of his movies should give you a pretty good idea of what his plays are like since they fucking come off like filmed plays rather than films. I do love "Glengarry" though.

Josh, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I meant dud more when he does screenplays for others, really: as he did for some big SUPERdud release recently, no? (tho his credit there more down to Screenwriters Guild rules I believe than any words of his actually surviving to final cut).

What fuck was it? If IMDB wasn't so slow on my machine I'd look it up right now. But it's time for bed and Tove Jansson instead.

mark s, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

superdud = first draft of Hannibal. And he has had a hand in other clunkers. DM as stage director, film director, browbeater: thrice dud. DM as dramatic thinker and lawgiver: Classic.

Re: wooden performances in Mamet's films (and plays - I've seen a couple regie par him and it's the same) > Mamet outrageously contends that actors should never worry about creating emotions sui generis. Which is what most actors think acting is. Says that the pursuit of their individual scenic goals alone will be so difficult, so hard to achieve, that their struggle will produce organic, truthful emotion as a byproduct of that process (this is AI's story -- put a robot thru the wringer of a Hollywood narrative in order to turn him not only heroic but human!). I think this is undoubtedly the most legit direction for actors to try to take their art. BUT most of today's actors are incapable of the demands this extremely challenging technique places on them, or unfamiliar with it, and a director who tries to enforce uniform adherence to it easily produces aggressive yet samey, passionless work... like Homicide? House of Games? Spanish Prisoner? yet another reason to let actors do things their own way.)

Cremaster comes across to me like all the consequences of a character's dramatic struggle, and not the struggle itself. All these passionate gestures - grief, anticipation, love, repentance. And all the actual acting on these desires, unfilmed. Like watching baseball highlights - the big home run, the defensive gem, the perfect bunt - bereft of drama, bereft of context or natural progression - money shots - or rather the opposite - only the look of the grass in the outfield in super closeup, only blood rolling slo-mo down an injured thigh, only the sadness of the crowd framed in profile of a shortstop's bulging butt. All the "olympic" touchy moments, none of the GAME. Maybe I'd appreciate Cremaster more if it were all broken into 30 second chunks and presented as a series of perfume ads, a testament to ill-spent funds. Or it could be the next 20 Tool videos, really. ("What Barney needs is a marketing director!")

Tracer Hand, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...
Be on the lookout for the final installation of the Cremaster series when Cremaster 3 opens this year. It's the longest so far at 182 minutes. Most of it is set in New York. Go to to read about it.

bryan, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
all cremasters will be shown at NY guggenheim in late feb, I'm looking forward to it since there is NO info on the web about it (aside from a few still imges you can purchase) I wish there were a trailer or something.

belle de jour, Tuesday, 4 February 2003 18:14 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I didn't see this thread when it originally went up, but I'd just like to say I consider MB the most important artist working in the world today. Tracer on this thread seems so caught up in language and conventional narrative structures with high redundancy that he's unwilling to accept their substitution with a series of visual associations, arbitrary, strange and ritualistic.

Barney's work is like a Poussin painting come to life, or a continuation of the 'metaphysical' fetishism for materials like fat, urine, felt and hare's blood seen in the work of Josef Beuys. He's brilliant at what he does, and he's the only one doing it.

What were they ABOUT? I think art contributes nothing, and in fact makes people feel less connected to each other, unless it's possible to discuss a MEANING to a movie over coffee afterwards.

Wanting just one meaning seems unduly reductive, but there's plenty to discuss if you know your Poussin and your Beuys, or even if you just want to talk about the personal symbolism, for you, of doves or grapes or TT racing or Gary Gilmore, or even just gossip about Bjork and Norman Mailer. It's entertaining on so many levels, there's just no excuse for being stumped for conversation.

bereft of drama, bereft of context or natural progression

I think what you mean is bereft of conventional drama, conventional context, and conventional progression. It's called 'being original'. And yes, MB can get away with this, and skip the 'how will it play in Des Moines' idiocies, because he has the money to do something completely uncompromised. There is, certainly, a certain amount of narcissism in his project, but there's narcissism in most great art that puts Man at the centre of the picture. (Although Barney is as likely to focus on a glacier or a grape as on his own, heavily-disguised, figure.)

The vertigo you describe, your thinly-veiled anger, is the direct result of Barney's complete 'otherness', which is what, for me, makes him so great and so welcome.

(And the kind of world you imply, a world where everything makes sense and is in the correct context, not only bores but terrifies me, because it's the kind of world where it 'makes sense' and is 'in context' for, say, the president of the US to mourn seven deaths while planning 500,000. How does that play in Des Moines? It 'makes sense' because of a non-problematical narrative structure called 'patriotism'.)

Momus (Momus), Wednesday, 5 February 2003 15:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

There's an article about Barney and the Cremaster series in a recent New Yorker, if you want to look for it. Doesn't appear to be online, sadly.

teeny (teeny), Wednesday, 5 February 2003 16:08 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Barney and Barbara Gladstone have announced that (1) the Cremaster series will be released on DVD and (2) it will be distributed commercially by Palm pictures. I'm very glad of this, because the three Chicago screenings of Cremaster 3 sold out within days.

The MCA here had an exhibition of some of Barney's plasticine sculptures and large photo prints related to the Cremaster series, but it is no longer up. Apparently such ephemera is typically sold after the Cremaster premieres for premium prices. (A few limited-edition DVDs had been available for upwards of $100,000.)

Finally, anyone interested in Barney should look at the books published by the Gladstone Gallery to accompany each of his film projects. They are filled with lavish photos taken by Barney along with frames from the films themselves, and are always designed so as to be art-objects in themselves (clever overleafs, different qualities of paper, etc.).

Amateurist (amateurist), Wednesday, 5 February 2003 16:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Why does this thing come after that thing? If you substitute arbitrary associations for a narrative structure, conventional or not, your film becomes a shaggy dog story ("this thing happened, then that thing! and you'll never believe what totally unrelated thing happened NEXT!") Theater's the only place where this irritates me more than in film. It's not THAT hard having something that could be described as a plot, even "Workers Leaving a Factory" has one. A lot of your songs have refrains. Does that make your songs conventional?

The most extreme form of the shaggy dog could be a film that ran forever, that you could duck in and out of always see something new! But to be thorough and everything about this extreme version we'd have to have different editors who didn't talk to each other, different writers doing a kind of exquisite corpse with the script, different compression and effects applied to the audio - MTV basically. So why does MTV usually feel so tyrannical, so riskless? Why did I feel so subjected, so whacked over the head in that screening room, as entrapped as one of Barney's misshapen archaic mutants? Because I didn't do things in the right order! First I was supposed to grok Beuys and Poussin (maybe Bacon too?), or be interested in Bjork's love life - THEN I could be admitted to Barney's uncompromised circle. I think I speak for Des Moines when I say "eh". Hope that's not too thinly veiled!

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Thursday, 6 February 2003 03:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i haven't seen the Cremaster films unfortunately but does shaggy dog = andalusian dog? or is the Bunuel surrealist mode not really a choice comparison to Barney..... or ... ?

Honda (Honda), Thursday, 6 February 2003 03:55 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

strict definition of JOKES">shaggy dog story is a long story with implausible details that turns out to be a horribly contrived pun. you can use it more loosely to just mean any long story that meanders and meanders with a lot of happenstance and consequenceless coincidences (or maybe that's just me ha). There's a very popular old movie called "The Shaggy Dog" about a tie-wearing suburban dad who drinks a potion and... becomes a dog! This particular plot reminds me of what Arthur Sullivan accused WS Gilbert of doing with all his light opera scripts until they knuckled down and created their most original masterpiece, according to Mike Leigh. I don't remember any accusations from the cremaster flick I saw.

You know, when I saw the cremaster film (which one has an old yet still beautiful Ursula Andress in it?), it was preceded by a digital video short featuring miniature blimps, his strangely predictable assortment of biogenital creatures; a phalanx of sexualized humanoids participating in a strange ceremony in what looked like an unused back-alley smack in the middle of town, caught on tape. I liked it! It was short and the digital video opened some breathing room from the crushing hermetic exactitude of his stylization. Barney's approach to whatever he's getting at in the Cremaster series is uncompromising, but to the point of being airless?kindof the opposite of what I would have thought you would say, Momus, about having provisional, short-term idea, constructs that fold away when they're no longer necessary, or transform to enclose more area:: quick mime or a sense of humor :P If somebody SCRIBBLed ALL OVER//////// the series of friezes would snap in a second.

I guess it's pretty original. ALTHOUGH there was a repugnantly cruel and graceless J-Lo flick that ripped off his style - what does THAT say? Did he do it first? Shouldn't you be ripped off by the BEST? :o Whichever it is, I certainly can't stop him from making the movies he puts so much care into, he doesn't need my money. Who knows what technical challenges he's solving all along the rocky way that every film production is, all the nuts and bolts and small triumphs. (We'll never know, because those kind of things never make it into his movies.)

Here's another J.Lo flick—taking sides—ts: "Out Of Sight" vs "Schizopolis"

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Thursday, 6 February 2003 06:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink


Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Thursday, 6 February 2003 06:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
Okay I just saw Cremaster 3 last night and thought it was outstanding. This was the film of my dreams and, while there were sequences that really had me going "huh?" (the horse race, in particular; I asked my wife what she thought it was about and she said, "I think it was, 'we can get horses? how much money do we have?'"), I found it really arresting, very beautiful, and at times exceptionally sad (that car with gary gilmore getting decimated, the circling attacking cars like some kind of bullying gang).

I will be overdosing on the rest of the series as they play out here in SF over the next week. Since I haven't seen the whole series I'm not positive how well the biological theme works, but the images had a strong resonance with me regardless of the intent and I think that's the hallmark of good art anyway.

Also, I don't think that the whole series is coming out on DVD, unfortunately, just The Order section of Cremaster 3 (the bit in the guggenheim w/Agonostic Front deuling w/Murphy's Law), which, while a nice fun diversion from the relentless gloom of the rest of the picture, seemed kind of tacked on and really stunted the dramatic impact of the death of the Apprentice in the film proper (I guess this was the point, but it was a weird one).

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Friday, 30 May 2003 14:33 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I saw a trailer for C3 and it looked terribly interesting. Should I brave the cultural jungle of SF to check these badboys out?

Leee (Leee), Thursday, 5 June 2003 17:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The music in the C3 trailer was especially stellar -- tell me, did the actual movie sound like the soft, ambient orchestral stuffs?

Leee (Leee), Thursday, 5 June 2003 18:02 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'm going to see Cremaster 3 tonight in Chicago. Will maybe report tomorrow.

jaymc (jaymc), Thursday, 5 June 2003 18:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i saw cremaster 3 in chicago and i was, how do i say this, underwhelmed. some parts were terribly entertaining, while others were just terrible and drawn out. it was fun to see in the theater, but i dont anticipate ever watching it again

todd swiss (eliti), Thursday, 5 June 2003 21:27 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Ignore them, yes, you should go, especially since it's at the Castro. The music is good. It is not as good as the music in Cremaster 5 which is a hungarian opera, but it's good. Go into it not expecting to see a "movie" and think of it as a moving series of sculptural set pieces and you'll have a better reaction to it.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Thursday, 5 June 2003 21:39 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Whoops. Sold out. Maybe I'll see it next week.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 6 June 2003 03:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

How did Barney get his money? Just curious.

Girolamo Savonarola, Tuesday, 17 June 2003 03:32 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

mark, you owe penance for making dsm your test market.

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 17 June 2003 03:54 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
The Cremaster films are playing in Seattle now -- one a week. Tonight we saw Cremaster 3, and it was *terrific*! This was my first experience of a Barney film. I was surprised at how *accessible* it was -- sure, it was surreal, there was a lot of bizarreness, but it just followed right along. It was endlessly fascinating -- as logical in its narrative as a dream. The Masonic imagery, as well as the Irish legend stuff, certainly kept our attention, not to mention the quite attractive Mr. Barney & Aimee Mullins. Utterly classic.

I also saw Pirates of the Carribean today, and got just exactly what I hoped to out of it: silly pirate-y fun, with plenty of Depp in eyeliner. It made one hell of a double feature!

Layna Andersen (Layna Andersen), Sunday, 13 July 2003 06:29 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"It's entertaining on so many levels, there's just no excuse for being stumped for conversation."-M

Tracer doesn't seem to be stumped for conversation. In fact, T seems to have gotten quite alot to talk about from MB. Maybe Barney is important, but to who exactly? There are 80 year old black ladies in Alabama making art as conceptual, symbolic, powerful and, as far as I'm concerned, important as Barney in their low budget, low tech quilts. And they achived this without hype, budget, or a famous girlfriend. I'm not denying his talent and vision. Personaly I love it. But I cringe when he's touted as THE most important artist. It's a title not unlike "Homecoming Queen".

django (django), Sunday, 13 July 2003 18:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i was too fucking bored by cremaster 3 and too indifferent to everything but the massive amounts of hype to put all the the thought or passion into a response as tracer hand, but i think he's OTM

lolita corpus (lolitacorpus), Sunday, 13 July 2003 19:32 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The Cremaster series is a 397 minute postcard from Matthew's Journey To The Center Of Himself. There are references to things we recognize as a species, but translate as individuals. But couldn't we have the same experience talking about the physics of smoke or what clouds look like? What is he acomplishing that's so inovative? People have bizarre dreams every night, are MB's some how more meaningful?

django (django), Sunday, 13 July 2003 20:16 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

a paraphrase of Emperor Joseph II's comment to Mozart:

"too many references, my dear Barney"

django (django), Sunday, 13 July 2003 20:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Dada, Sunday, 13 July 2003 20:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i dont know, i think that in many ways barney is an outsider artist with money.

look how singualr, hermetic, epic and perverse his vision is, how it is almost cobbled together, and how it mantains its own symbol set.

this is harvey danger at least. (vyvvan girs. have then ame wrong)

anthony easton (anthony), Sunday, 13 July 2003 22:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure I follow. Epic and perverse yes, but I haven't seen anything in his films that isn't a refernce to something else. It's funny you chose 'heremetic'. I got into a nasty art fight with some assistant of his one night. He was insulted that my friend refered to MB as 'cryptic'. He felt MB spoke in a tounge so common that anyone, from Zulu to Swede, would be able to understand it, whether they know Poussin or not. I tend to agree, but I find it impossible to seperate him from his art and his art from his hype. Which one of these things makes him important? All of the above?

django (django), Sunday, 13 July 2003 23:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i saw Cremaster 3 today in Austin. i liked i guess, but im not hard to impress. thinking about it now, i think i like it more now than when i was watching it. it seemed way too long, too boring, too deliberate in the theater, but it seems better in my memory. i really liked the guggenheim sequence because it seemed like a video game.

ryan (ryan), Monday, 14 July 2003 03:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Ooh, think what a great video game that'd make, too. It'd kick the hell out of the Matrix.

Layna Andersen (Layna Andersen), Monday, 14 July 2003 04:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i mean hermetic as a closed symbol set, like plants in a terrium, i have only seen the stills though/

anthony easton (anthony), Monday, 14 July 2003 04:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What Momus likes about Brassens, Barney doesn't have any of. The feel of Brassens's music is a consequence of two things: i) the story he's telling and ii) his attitude towards his role as storyteller (and so inevitably his attitude towards YOU). If Barney has an opinion about his relationship with his story, and thus his relationship to the people he's telling the story to, it's been rigorously excluded from the art itself. Maybe it's because there's not a story there, just a palette of rotating moods obeying some well-hidden formula or other. (Visual artists have something of the old alchemist in them: they work in secret and wait to spring something on the world.) Anyway, whatever pattern or intelligence animates Barney's extraordinary spectacle, its obscurity lights up the fact of its existence with giant blinking exclamation points. I'll never know what strong feeling gripped him, what made this project urgent. Like django said, Cremaster is like someone else's dreams or vacation photos: without someone to tell you a story, a shocking vista is just another shocking vista in a pile of them.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 14 July 2003 04:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Well, I like that his work is like a choose-your-own-metaphor. He's just provided an empty, yet extravagant frame or container. Maybe it's up to us put the substance in the middle which, conceptually, is really pretty cool. But then shouldn't WE get credit for the peice, having given it meaning? As far as I know, James Turrel follows the same logic but achives astounding results! I walk away from Turrel's work stunned and giddy and hopeful for the future of art. Cremaster makes me mentally exhausted. I could NEVER sit through those movies again, but I could live surrounded by Turrel's pieces for the rest of my life.

django (django), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

god my speeling suks

django (django), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

If Barney tried to sell me the tricked-out super-detailed car of my dreams sans engine I wouldn't say it was cool, conceptually or otherwise, I'd say it didn't work. Of course I could make the engine myself, or contract someone else to put one in (with Cremaster the equivalent to the latter might be reading the press releases and reviews to tell me what the hell was worth getting that bored for). But in any case I'd be somewhat suspicious of him in the future when he said he "made cars."

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:43 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Could it be that the Barneymobile car has an engine but is without a driver?

django (django), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Choose your own metaphor, it's all good! Whatever!

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink


i thought perhaps that was necessary (tracerhand), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:54 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Barney's attempt at building a car was a chopped up thing made of honeycombs with no doors. I'd rather bike..

we know what's going on, don't we. ;] ;]

django (django), Monday, 14 July 2003 05:58 (fourteen years ago) Permalink


Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 14 July 2003 06:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

and more useful! .......or poor, poor, wealthy, handsome, muscular, famous matthew! Such abuse! If I ever get wealthy, handsome, muscular and famous, will they talk about me this way?

django (django), Monday, 14 July 2003 06:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What frightens me is that based on the title he's threatening 8 more of these spectacles.

this new one, from the look of it (and, god help us, its eight sequels)

Drawing Restraint 1 through 8 already exist. Try Google.

account settings (account), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 22:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I guess 13 is happening at some point in April and May.

account settings (account), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 22:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I am OTM

RJG (RJG), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 22:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

sorry, martin sastre is OTM

RJG (RJG), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 22:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ok here's my theory:

i. avant-garde art is somewhat about refusing conventions (rarely as totally as it says it is: but def somewhat)
ii. conventions provide (among other things) useful constraints and obstacle courses for problem solving which allows for leaps of energy and imagination as HOOKS
iii. avant-garde art is generally also pinched for funding in ways mainstream and traditional art aren't
iv. lack of funding provides (among other things) useful constraints and obstacle courses for problem solving which allows for leaps of energy and imagination as HOOKS
v. MB never has to worry whether something he's doing WORKS -- there isn't a convention metric, there isn't a technique metric, there isn't a budget metric -- so a. he plans it all out, complete w.hidden conceptual whatever in his BRANE, and then b. he executes it, except where anyone else would come to FORMAL or STRUCTURAL or EXECUTIONAL obstacles*, he can always just spend his way round them
vi. so there's a actually a kind of evasive deadness haning over the whole thing -- you can't tell when he's ON IT and when he's NOT bcz HE can't te;ll, bcz there's no gradient for him between skin-of-yer-teeth brilliant cobble-together-after-the-fact solution and the re-envisioning (= thinking about it afterwards) that problem-solving would bring to it... problems don't arise

*like as an example: the glaciermelt footage -- he never has to worry in respect of "i could only afford one day's shooting", i have to make what i've got WORK as it is, and restucturte everything round my limitation; which wd give its presence a kind of torque in the body of the film: he can always just film as much as he first thought he wanted -- he never has to rethink or replan, and everything stays shallow, bcz the maker's mind is neverv thrown into relief, or even into second gear really...


(bear in mind i have only seen 2, and quite liked it) (certainly i remember sensual images from it very clearly)

mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 22:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I pretty much agree with you about that. Barney's work seems encumbered, paradoxically, by its lack of limitations.

Abbadavid Berman (Hurting), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 23:01 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i. avant-garde art is somewhat about refusing conventions (rarely as totally as it says it is: but def somewhat)
ii. conventions provide (among other things) useful constraints and obstacle courses for problem solving which allows for leaps of energy and imagination as HOOKS

Except that the avant garde has been around for so long that refusing convention has become, itself, a convention, and therefore is now exactly the sort of constraint and obstacle course that can provide the structure you're talking about. In other words, there's the kind of repetition and redundancy required already there, and it's been there since Duchamp, at least.

There's even more when an artist establishes a sub-genre as recognizable as Barney's. Watching Pierre Hughye's film A Journey That Wasn't, I couldn't help wondering if it was a parody of Barney's apparently not-so-sui-generis genre. The music by Joshua Cody sounds exactly like Jonathan Beppler's scores for the Cremaster series. Even if it isn't a parody, it shows that this genre of art film now has as much usable convention and redundancy as Hollywood film-making.

Momus (Momus), Tuesday, 28 March 2006 23:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If so, what, specifically, are these "constraints and obstacle courses" that Barney encounters in his films -- and how does he solve them? (nb: I've not seen a Cremaster movie in its entirety, only bits and pieces on PBS)

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Another question: is there an actual Hollywood film that comes closest to the state of being completely unconstrained by budget/convention/technique?

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If so, what, specifically, are these "constraints and obstacle courses" that Barney encounters in his films -- and how does he solve them? (nb: I've not seen a Cremaster movie in its entirety, only bits and pieces on PBS)

Well, the films are very much about weird labours of Hercules. Barney always has to shin up an elevator shaft, walk along the surface of the sea, climb through a tunnel connecting two cars, climb around the proscenium arch of a theatre, etc. These scenes resemble the crossing-the-pool-with-a-candle scene in Tarkovsky's "Nostalgia" or the hauling-a-boat-over-a-mountain in Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo", and act as a sort of metaphysical "Jeux Sans Frontieres" as well as providing an epic narrative structure.

There's also the constraint that each film has to incorporate Barney's sculptures and installations. For instance, the vat of liquid vaseline on the deck of the whaler in "Drawing Restraint 9" or the sex-organs-based installation in the blimp. This is the films' raison d'etre, to turn the space-based medium that is sculpture into the the time-based medium that is film. It's in itself a "trial of Hercules", and the way Barney accomplishes it is with music, a kind of intermediate artform between space and time. Beppler's scores not only brilliant, they're hugely important to the success of the whole enterprise.

Momus (Momus), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

(It's also worth saying that the theme and title of "Drawing Restraint 9" are specifically about exactly this notion of the value of constraint and restraint that Mark S brings up.)

Momus (Momus), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

fwiw, the nyt is considerably more enthusiastic.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 07:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

OK, I played the trailer with sound off and iTunes cranked to "King of Sorrow," and it was really funny for like 20 seconds.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 15:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

just got this in my inbox, if you're in nyc and are a fan..

Tokion is the proud sponsor of the premiere of Drawing Restraint 9, the new film by Matthew Barney.

Director Matthew Barney in person today at 6:40 & 9:30 shows!

IFC Center

phil-two (phil-two), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 21:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Saw DRAWING RESTRAINT 9 a couple of weeks ago. Seriously gruesome finale, but if you liked the the Cremaster series, you'll like this. Otherwise . .

Soukesian, Friday, 23 November 2007 23:13 (nine years ago) Permalink

. . and, yeah, I'm up for DR10 and or Cremaster 6. Anyone who can connect me for a Cremaster 5 soundtrack, get in touch. And, Matthew, how about those action figures?

Soukesian, Friday, 23 November 2007 23:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

After straining hard to appreciate that Guggenheim show a few years ago and a few of the films, I never again felt the slightest desire to see anything this guy did.

Hurting 2, Saturday, 24 November 2007 07:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

Besides Bjork, I'm guessing.

nickn, Saturday, 24 November 2007 07:22 (nine years ago) Permalink


Hurting 2, Saturday, 24 November 2007 07:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

is this guy still a thing

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Saturday, 25 February 2012 07:06 (five years ago) Permalink

the Busby Berkeley style shit from C1 is something I still think bout loads.

mmmm, Saturday, 25 February 2012 11:03 (five years ago) Permalink

my girlfriend's dad once accidentally kicked part of a Matthew Barney installation

Nicholas Pokémon (silby), Saturday, 25 February 2012 15:52 (five years ago) Permalink

he kicked a tv?

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Saturday, 25 February 2012 16:03 (five years ago) Permalink

nah it was some sculpture thing, I think what he kicked was like some paper piled up on the floor or something

Nicholas Pokémon (silby), Saturday, 25 February 2012 16:08 (five years ago) Permalink

remember when they used to call him, "The most important artist working today"? oh my god, he is so terrible. now if they'd only banish cindy sherman to the same place

Iago Galdston, Saturday, 25 February 2012 16:38 (five years ago) Permalink

like a prestigious art gallery

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Saturday, 25 February 2012 16:40 (five years ago) Permalink

i'm talking about how his reputation was once so stellar and is now the crapper--he'll continue making his merch and have plenty of buyers

Iago Galdston, Saturday, 25 February 2012 16:41 (five years ago) Permalink

is it in the crapper? (that was kind of the point of this semi-drunk revive)

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Saturday, 25 February 2012 17:06 (five years ago) Permalink

I remember seeing his first(?) show at Barbara Gladstone in the early 90s and it was pretty incredible...even though his various inspirations (Serra, Nauman, Burden, Acconci) were still being worked through, it was an interesting blend of sculpture, video, and performance. He coasts along now but his work isn't really looked at by other artists and the whole enterprise of making photographs and tchotchkes to fund the films resulted in alot of junk bought by rich collectors on the basis of a big industry of boosters around him that works when they are hot but dooms them in the long run

Iago Galdston, Saturday, 25 February 2012 18:30 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Ahhh hah awesome - is that from Khu?

Early on, at an abandoned glue factory, assembly-line machinists turned steel sheets into 16 working viols, which were played by musicians in a mournful aria before Detroit blues singer Belita Woods belted out incantations from The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The audience was then packed onto a barge, which floated down the Rouge and Detroit Rivers and eventually stumbled upon a crime-scene investigation on the shoreline. Actress Aimee Mullins played an FBI detective who also happens to be an incarnation of the goddess Isis, and soon, as four towboats loaded with musicians circled the barge, the cadaver of the Chrysler from “REN” was pulled from the river. In turns, the car’s remains were autopsied on deck, separated like mummified organs, allowing Isis the opportunity to have sex with the engine—notably filled with live snakes—before being taken into custody herself by two twin baritones. The car’s body was lifted off the barge, cut into pieces, and as the audience stood after sunset in the rain on a platform in front of a steel mill shooting sparks, the pieces of the Chrysler were eventually melted into molten liquid

Brakhage, Saturday, 20 July 2013 00:06 (four years ago) Permalink

I will see anything this dude does ever.

You pieces of shit. (jjjusten), Saturday, 20 July 2013 06:57 (four years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

What's the deal with River of Fundament?

This Is Not An ILX Username (LaMonte), Wednesday, 26 March 2014 19:31 (three years ago) Permalink

sounds typically insane

akm, Wednesday, 26 March 2014 23:26 (three years ago) Permalink

i admit to finding the idea of this guy's movies--or more like, sections of the movies--more pleasant than watching a whole part of the cremaster cycle :(

espring (amateurist), Wednesday, 26 March 2014 23:38 (three years ago) Permalink

i watched all of cremaster over the course of about a week, it was totally fun

akm, Thursday, 27 March 2014 03:52 (three years ago) Permalink

Best review I've seen of it yet

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Thursday, 27 March 2014 03:58 (three years ago) Permalink


i guess i just felt, when watching them, that the shots don't seem to have any large-scale interaction that would make them more than the sum of their parts. it's like a series of maximalist images, one after the other like a slide show. but i admit i saw them years ago.

espring (amateurist), Thursday, 27 March 2014 04:13 (three years ago) Permalink

Re: the DVD issue, these all seem to be on Youtube. Any point watching them there?

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Thursday, 27 March 2014 04:26 (three years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

should i see 'river of fundament' in london in a couple weeks y/n

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Tuesday, 17 June 2014 17:31 (three years ago) Permalink

i might go on the monday. Just thinking it through.

woof, Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:05 (three years ago) Permalink

I will see anything this dude does ever.

Pew Nornographers (contenderizer), Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:35 (three years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

Just saw Fundament in Los Angeles. Thought it was excellent. Not as complex, dense, or conceptually interesting as Cremaster, but very visceral and immersive. The art-kids were down on Barney's hubris, as they always are, but truthfully I have a lot of trouble thinking of anyone else who does "blockbuster art films" like these. Are there any?

Desert_Fox, Monday, 27 April 2015 07:29 (two years ago) Permalink

Visionary artist Matthew Barney makes his BAM debut with the world premiere screening of River of Fundament, a radical reinvention of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings. In collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler, Barney combines traditional modes of narrative cinema with filmed elements of performance, sculpture, and opera, reconstructing Mailer’s hypersexual story of Egyptian gods and the seven stages of reincarnation, alongside the rise and fall of the American car industry.

hahaha one of the absolute worst books, and i say that as a big mailer fan

now i want to see this, though ... how long was it?

the late great, Tuesday, 28 April 2015 06:02 (two years ago) Permalink

It was 6.5 hours (including two 30-minute intermissions). So not that far off from the entire Cremaster Cycle. The Mailer thing is a pretty good send-up of his obscurantism: a novel no one has ever read, and an author who is world-famous but (at least from the perspective of academia) is hardly read nowadays, even in the United States, aside from White Negro and American Dream. And I imagine Mailer's profile is even lower in the mostly European countries where this has been screening?

Desert_Fox, Tuesday, 28 April 2015 18:00 (two years ago) Permalink

Not related to River of Fundament, but I'd be really interested to learn what if anything Barney's said about Lynda Benglis. I'm finishing a paper on Benglis (undergrad, nothing fancy or probably even particularly good) and it really seems like there's a connection between her beeswax lozenges (here or here or etc) and Barney's "field emblem," especially the Vaseline version in Drawing Restraint 9.

Probably either not really or totally obvious, but fuck it, why not...

You guys are caterpillar (Telephone thing), Wednesday, 29 April 2015 01:06 (two years ago) Permalink

Not sure I see the connection to the Field Emblem, though you may be on to something with the materials. Cremaster used Vaseline/plastic/beeswax (very explicitly in Cremaster 2), and Fundament moves over to gold leaf and metals, roughly following Benglis's trajectory. And I should maybe also add that Fundament features many gold-leaf phalluses and turds.

Desert_Fox, Wednesday, 29 April 2015 17:57 (two years ago) Permalink

The general "lozenge" shape with a horizontal division at the center- it's not as apparent on all of Benglis's beeswax paintings but there's a line where she started brushing outward vertically.

I'll have to check out River of Fundament if I can.

You guys are caterpillar (Telephone thing), Wednesday, 29 April 2015 22:33 (two years ago) Permalink

6.5 hours?!? no thanks

the late great, Wednesday, 29 April 2015 23:53 (two years ago) Permalink

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