Sunday, October 07, 2007

I love you, you eat me, we're the man-shrimp family...

Drawing Restraint 9
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Given that my art-world obsession Matthew Barney is exhibiting his Drawing Restraint series at the Serpentine Gallery at the mo', I thought it would be a good time to postmy interview with him about DR 9, the fascinating/irritating "filmed sculpture" that is the centrepiece of the multimedia series.
Watching ship workers create the [giant, Vaseline] field sculpture is interesting if you enjoy watching cranes slowly lifting and lowering objects at construction sites. For everybody else, the more intriguing part of Drawing Restraint 9 takes place inside the ship, where Bjork and Barney as "The Occidental Guests" undergo a bizarre mating ritual. After having their eyebrows shaved and swimming in a bathtub with lemons floating in it, the two participate in a skewed Shinto tea ceremony in a tiny compartment hidden behind a water fountain. As the compartment fills with fluid, the two real-life lovers slice pieces of each others' legs off, feed them to each other, and metamorphose into ... well, the artist is right here, so I won't take a wild guess.

"I was trying to explain it to someone last night and said you turn into men shrimp," I confess.

Barney laughs at this. "They're sea monkeys," he jokes, before explaining that he and Bjork, in fact, turn into embryonic whales.
Man, I love-hate that guy!

And if you can't get enough Barney (I can't!), here's my review of his entire Cremaster Cycle.
The most visually imaginative of the five in the cycle is Cremaster 3, which unfortunately is also the most difficult to sit through, clocking in at an inexorable three hours and featuring a score composed by Jonathan Bepler that literally had me sticking my fingers in my ears.

The first half of it goes a little like this: A female corpse digs her way out of the basement of the Chrysler Building and is placed in the back seat of a Chrysler Imperial New Yorker in the lobby. Five Chrysler Crown Imperials begin battering the makeshift hearse, until is is reduced to the size of a large potato. Then, the condensed car is brought up to a dentist's office on the top floor and fitted into the Apprentice's mouth. This causes the Apprentice's intestines to fall out of his rectum. He then excretes his teeth, which melt and resolve into an ivory rod.

While this is jaw-droppingly inventive, it is also pretty darn well meaningless. Nancy Spector, who curated Barney's big Guggenheim exhibition, writes that, "In his work, Barney is transcribing a new post-Oedipal myth for our contemporary culture." But, frankly, that don't wash with me: I just watched a man put a car in his mouth and shit out his teeth.
Oh, I give up... It's not a love-hate relationship anymore. I just plain love Barney! I've recounted watching him scarf down a car and poop out his teeth more than any other art/theatre/film experience of the past five years, so he must be a genius, like Einstein or something.

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