Thursday, July 14, 2005

Drawing Restraint

Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint opened last week at Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, including Drawing Restraint 9, a new film from 2005 (the previous components date from 1989-93); it travels to Seoul in the autumn and is scheduled to show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 23 June through 19 September 2006.

Drawing Restraint 9 still
Still from Drawing Restraint 9

The Drawing Restraint series examines the relationship between self-imposed resistance and creativity, a theme DR9 tracks through the construction and transformation of The Field, a vast sculpture of liquid vaseline which is poured, molded, cut, and reformed on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel.

Björk and Barney, playing two of the storm-tossed ship’s passengers, fall in love during a ritual tea ceremony (from the press release, “the tearoom itself becomes the tea bowl as it slowly fills up with warm fluid”); eventually, the couple morph into cetaceans via amputation of the lower body. “This mutilation has nothing horrible about it, it's part of a transformation. When we cut into each other, the open flesh is not human flesh any more. It's white like whale flesh. Our legs drop off, we grow foetus-like tails and then we become whales and swim off towards the Antarctic.”

Free-associations from [scant] writings on the film:

The soundtrack, composed by Björk, is profiled on her website.


Blogger John K said...

Oh that Matthew Barney...I go back and forth about his work, sometimes finding it brilliant and other times the acme of charlatanry and emblematic of the utter bankruptcy of the contemporary avant-garde. But after your write up, Bill, I must admit that I'm now dying to see this film. Björk's performance alone, whatever it may comprise, would be worth the price of the ticket.

1:21 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Barney's a good topic for an essay, since he's--as you indicate--both brilliant and a huckster. He possesses a great work ethic, is gifted at the art of the revenue stream, and, interestingly, a big draw, especially among the young.

I sat through one of the Cremaster marathons at the Guggenheim last year?--passing in and out of sleep--and going for, oh, about 20% of it. But what a 20%!

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel asimilar way about Barney's work, flucuating between absolute brilliance and vacuous superficiality. The amazing sections of his work are virtually unparalelled in contemporary art. I just wish he was a (more objective) better editor of his own work. He has fantastic potential.

5:04 PM  

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