Monday, July 30, 2007

Matthew Barney Under The Knife

From today -- an article about collage artist Ron Rocheleau.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Matthew Barney, Michael Rees, and Jonathan Meese

Here are some more photographs of Matthew Barney and Jonathan Meese (and a few with Michael Rees) after their performance at Barney's studio in Long Island City, New York.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Matthew Barney & Jonathan Meese in New York

While looking around the internet for pictures of Barney's Guardian of the Veil performance in Manchester, I found some more photographs of the performance in New York City last may. The performance was held at Barney's new studio in Long Island City, and also featured performances by Jonathan Meese (pictured with Barney above) and Michael Rees.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More about Guardian of the Veil in Manchester's Scene & Herd gives us their take on Barney's Guardian of the Veil performance in Manchester today:

"Rarely in one night had the city seen the convergence of such an assortment of artsy individuals—many of whom had never before set foot in Manchester. All manner of artists, dealers (Shaun Caley Regen, Barbara Gladstone), collectors (Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Maya Hoffman), curators (Martijn van Nieuwenhuizen, Suzanne Pagé, Maria Lind, and even Japan’s Akiko Miyake), fashionistas (from Ramdane Touhami to Stefano Pilati), and actors (including up-and-coming French hunk Melvil Poupaud) were present.


Everyone was a bit uneasy about Barney (whose real mustache trumped our artificial one) and his opus. A burst of music heralded a strange procession of men sporting balaclavas and T-shirts bearing the words DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION. They carried Aimee Mullins (the actress/model/athlete and Cremaster 3 star with dual prostheses) on a stretcher, leading the audience back into the theater.

And there, Barney, with a small dog perched atop his head like the Egyptian god Anubis, proceeded to perform a kind of funeral ceremony under the hood of a crashed car. For those—like myself—who missed his apparently very similar performance in New York last April, he presented a ritual that involved contortionists who peed on stage, a young woman (alas, not Björk) who fist-fucked herself, and a bull named Ross, who made headlines by “mounting” the rear end of the car—a Cadillac, no less—thus attracting the attention of animal anticruelty agencies. Some in the audience found this all a bit too much and deemed it “macho”; I even heard the word fascist. In any event, we can safely say that Barney excels in baroque avant-drama, and—should he ever be asked—he’s well prepped to direct one of those Wagnerian operas in Salzburg."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Guardian of the Veil Pics and Reviews

I dug up some more information about Barney's Guardian of the Veil performance at the Manchester International Festival. The Telegraph reports that Il Tempo Del Postino, the group of 14 performances (including Barney's) curated by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno, will be repeated at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, Feb 14-16 2008.

The Telegraph continues:

"Guardian of the Veil seems to be about nothing less than the psycho-sexual origins of Islamic fundamentalism. As the curtain rises, four pall-bearers dressed in paramilitary fatigues place the corpse of a woman wearing a sequinned, Western-style cocktail dress on the roof of a crashed car. Barney then enters wearing a Masonic leather apron and a headdress containing a live dog to represent the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis. He then symbolically "embalms" the woman and the values she represents, by opening the car bonnet, and removing parts of the motor which he deposits in Egyptian funerary urns at the front of the stage.

As balaclava-wearing terrorists roam the stage playing a haunting score composed by Barney's collaborator Jonathan Bepler, a series of symbolic actions take place: a naked woman who stands motionless throughout the performance and whom we see only from the rear is ritually "veiled" in black plastic of the sort used to make bin bags; a female contortionist, naked apart from a veil over her face, stiletto heels, and claw-like nail extensions bends over backwards in such a way that all we see of her are her legs and vagina, then urinates spectacularly and copiously over the stage; a ritually garlanded bull is escorted on stage in too-close-for-comfort proximity to the still-exposed vagina, then urged to mount the crashed car, which, as we saw, Barney uses as a symbol of the female body. At the stomach-turning finale, the naked woman we see from behind defecates on stage.

Shocking as some of this is, nothing that goes on in Barney's dream-like, surrealistic performance is gratuitous. He is meditating on the psychic catastrophe that is Islamism, whereby men who possess power over women express their fear and disgust at the sight of the female body by forcing their daughters and wives to cover themselves completely. Drawing on Freud's writings, he shows that women who are made powerless express their rage in the only way they can - by using their own bodies to urinate and defecate.

The corpse we saw at the beginning is that of a Westernised Muslim woman, embalmed and replaced by women made faceless by men who deny their existence as real people. This breakdown of human interaction is completed when the men then cover their own faces in balaclavas, losing any sense of themselves as individuals and allowing them to be subsumed in their sick ideology. Barney seems to be saying that the horrors we see nightly on news bulletins from the Middle East have their origins in sexual dysfunction.

The cause of Islamists' hatred of the West has nothing to do with Israel or Iraq but with fear of the other. They hate everyone who isn't like them, beginning with their own mothers, sisters and wives. And orchestrating this perversion of human nature is the god of death."

Read Full Article

Guardian of the Veil in Manchester

Matthew Barney performed a new piece called, "Guardian of the Veil" (not, apparently, "Guarding of the Veil" as previously reported) as part of "Il Tempo del Postino", a selection of contemporary performance art (18+ -- see ticket photo!) held at the Manchester Opera House last weekend. This is the same piece he performed recently at his new studio in Long Island City, New York. It's unclear whether the performances in Manchester were filmed, but I would speculate that scenes from Manchester will be edited in with scenes shot in New York for an upcoming film.

From a local blog:
"A paraplegic woman is carried through the foyer on a stretcher, accompanied by an orchestra dotted around the building dressed in combat gear and balaclavas. She is then taken onto the stage where she is lifted on top of a car. There is a woman on stage clad in an enormous piece of PVC that has been stretched over her body down to her waist. She has her finger up her bum. Matthew Barney emerges from the auditorium with a dog on his head. He takes pieces out of the car and places them in Egyptian alabaster jars, (this is a parody of Egyptian burial rites; removing body parts and putting them in jars. And of course he is meant to be Anubis.) As he does this two women, naked from the waist down, but masked and covered in frills, walk through the auditorium. They walk up onto the stage and go back into the crab position, urinating as they do this. The loading door at the back of the stage opens and a live bull is led down a ramp onto the stage. The bull circles the scene twice and is then encouraged to mount the car. The PVC woman removes the finger from her bum and the performance ends."

From The Guardian:
"Barney, whose head has been replaced by a live dog for the performance, plays high priest and car mechanic, fiddling about under the hood of a crashed car. For some reason, there is a corpse on the roof. The dog looks bemused. It is all very slow and portentous. Later, the bull, whose name is Ross, is invited to mount the rear end of the automobile. A discerning pedigree, Ross demurs. Nor does he appear interested in the pair of incontinent contortionists, one of whom arcs her body and pees all over the stage at one point. Another static, naked odalisque spends almost the entire performance with her head hidden under a black rubber veil, and with a hand up her own bottom. And then there are the balaclava-wearing, baglama-playing paramilitaries.",,2127473,00.html

From The Manchester Evening News:
"Many figures from the international art scene flew into Manchester to see the distinctive works acted out.

Attracting most attention is Barney's show, which features a live bull, a car and naked women. Audience members are restricted to over-18s and warnings about the controversial content have been issued.

Barney, an avant-garde US artist married to quirky pop star Bjork, appears in the show with a mongrel dog sitting on his head as the bull - complete with a garland around its neck - is paraded around the stage by handlers in berets and balaclavas. Women wearing only face veils strike explicit poses, another lies on top of a wrecked car with a life-size model of a cow's rump attached.

Manchester graphic design artist Peter Saville, who was involved in planning Barney's performance, said he didn't think audiences would be shocked.

He said: "Not everybody understands Barney's work when they first see it, but it can often become clear later.

"It's similar to reading Shakespeare at school and then understanding when you're older."

Use of the animals in the show - particularly Ross, the Highland bull kept under control with a harness attached to the ceiling - has already attracted RSPCA concern."

There is also an interesting feature on Ross, the Highland Bull featured in the performance, HERE

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cremaster 2 @ AFI New York

The Anthology Film Archives in NYC will be screening Cremaster 2 on July 28th and August 1st as part of their "The Mistress and the Muse: The Films of Normal Mailer" series:

"An elaborate reworking of the gothic western, the second film in Barney's CREMASTER cycle (though the third produced – he didn't make the films in order) takes us to the salt flats of Utah and to the heart of a modern day American myth. Loosely based on Norman Mailer's THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG, CREMASTER 2… explores the mythology surrounding career-criminal Gary Gilmore: his relation to Harry Houdini [as played by Mailer himself]…who was possibly Gilmore's grandfather; his conception; his notorious murder of a gas station attendant; his Mormonism and belief in the redemptive powers of immortality; and his execution, carried out in a final sequence of considerable power… Combining majestic shots of the Utah landscape with a trash aesthetic that takes in rodeo, thrash metal and 1970s kitsch Americana, Barney elevates – much as Mailer did – the tale of Gilmore into a meditation on fate and martyrdom." –CHANNEL FOUR

Friday, July 13, 2007

Welcome to the Cremaster Fanatic Blog

Welcome to the new Cremaster Fanatic Blog!

This blog will publish news from the Cremaster Fanatic web site. I decided to make the switch to blogger so that all you Matthew Barney fans can subscribe to the Cremaster Fanatic feed and stay updated on the latest Matthew Barney news. To subscribe, please click on the icon at the upper right corner of the page.

Older news from 2007 can be found HERE

In addition, Matthew Barney news from 2004 - 2006 is archived here: