Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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"Barney, whose head has been replaced by a live dog for the performance, plays high priest and car mechanic, fiddling about under the hood of a crashed car.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."
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