Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vote Matthew Barney!

Image: Matthew Barney Button by Patrick Welch

Saatchi Online is running a feature allowing visitors to rank their favorite artists of the 20th Century. Currently, Matthew Barney is ranked number 98. You can cast your vote(s) at Let's move Matthew up the list!!!!!

Also, we recently discovered Matthew Barney's profile on, where you can cast your vote for "Matthew's Top Romance"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Performance Art at Matthew Barney's Studio

We recently discovered some videos of last Spring's performances by Jonathan Meese and Michael Rees at Matthew Barney's studio. Unfortunately, we haven't found any videos online of Barney's Guardian of the Veil performance, but you can see some of Barney's props in the background of the other performances (and a quick glimpse of Barney and Bjork in the New Art TV videos). Meese brandishes a biography of General MacArthur at one point, perhaps a prop he discovered among Barney's things at the studio.

Michael Rees - Live Life! (New Art TV)
Jonathan Meese Performance (New Art TV)
Jonathan Meese Performance (Contemporary Fine Art, Berlin -- cleaner soundtrack, less of the "scene")

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More on Matthew Barney's Ren in Los Angeles

We found some more pics and descriptions of Matthew Barney's Ren performance in Los Angeles last weekend in the blogosphere.

The Gessel On blog reports:

"It was a very impressive show, fun to watch and at moments quite exciting, though largely staged for the cameras. The former RV sales lot was converted to an amazingly convincing Chrysler dealership complete with stationary on the walls, sales targets, car dealers and pictures of the employees of the month.

The performance started with the synchronized arrival of sections of a marching band which aggregated in the parking lot. The effect was pretty cool, with timing and distance and location of the different elements spread over a huge distance and slowly coalescing, all lead by marching band leader (and composer) Jonathan Bepler, who I’ve known since grade school but hadn’t seen in person for decades.

An iconic Chrysler Imperial was revealed as a funerary casket, a procession pulled by a few dozen strong men, as Egyptian slaves might have hauled stone blocks, down from the roof of the building and through the parking lot.

The imperial wended its way into a showroom to trade places with a gold firebird and then to its demise at the teeth of a deforestation machine, the showroom fitted with bullet-proof glass and lots of crickets for the purpose. The glass, amazingly, proved strong enough for the flying car parts and crow bars, but was not quite proof against the stabilizer feet of the gigantic excavator. We were perfectly located for that moment.
The remains of the imperial were ritually collected and we joined the staff in the parts department for the final procession involving scarabs, a beautiful woman, and a surprisingly large funerary drape, especially surprising given the orifice from which it was extracted.

The depth of detail of the performance was extraordinary. No simple write up can do it justice and I can’t imagine that even a small part of every carefully prepared element can make it to the final film. The details made walking through the performance an exercise in discovery - from post-it notes in the office, to the illuminated Chrysler signs as tunable Taiko drums, to the dealer tags on the cars in the lot everything was meticulously prepared over four weeks. Then a day later it was gone."

Lipstick Tracez has some good photos and the information that there were 18 cameras filming the action and that they filmed the set for three days before the performance. They also spotted, "Spiderman actor and art lover James Franco, literary beauty Sophie Dahl, designer Jeremy Scott, artists Catherine Opie, [and] Agathe Snow," in the crowd of onlookers. Of the car pictured above, they write, "In case you can't tell, thats a Chrysler Imperial with a giant porta potty welded into the trunk followed by a giant septic tank shaped as a globe filled with the nastiest blue septic fluid."

Matthew Barney Performs Ren at Los Angeles Car Dealership

Above photographs from shweool's Flickr photostream.

Last weekend Matthew Barney performed Ren - the first in a series of seven live performances that will be filmed and edited into a single video - at an abandoned RV dealership just off I-5 in Los Angeles. For the performance, the dealership was transformed into a Chrysler auto showroom called "Ren", apparently a contraction of "Re" (the Egyptian sun god) and "Renaissance". The storyline is based on Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer (who starred in Cremaster 2) and also appears to relate to Cremaster 3 and the recent Guardian of the Veil.'s Linda Yablonsky reports there was a cast and crew of 140, plus over six hundred art-world insiders including, "Barney reps Barbara Gladstone, Shaun Caley Regen, and Sadie Coles, ... artists Mike Kelley, Shannon Ebner, Raymond Pettibon, Doug Aitken, Amy Adler, and Jack Pierson, dealers Jose Freire and Tim Blum, LACMA director Michael Govan, and curators Paul Schimmel, Ali Subotnick, Clarissa Dalrymple, and Klaus Kertess. (Collectors were conspicuously absent.)"

"The performance officially began at 6:40 PM, when a drum-and-bugle corps approached the car lot from surrounding roads and sprinted up the ramp to the roof, playing Bepler's percussive music. With the audience lined up on either side, the trucks parted to reveal a lime-green 1967 Chrysler Imperial with a Barney seal (both familiar from Cremaster 3) on the hood and a large, eggshell-white orb covered in dirt and roots on the back, chained to a smashed-up Port-a-San. Cremaster 3 star Aimee Mullins, who plays The Entered Novitiate, was interred on the roof, under a mound of rock salt and Idaho potatoes....A salesman-actor appeared to intone a nearly unintelligible monologue involving piss, feces, mud, gas, and other typical Mailerisms, like "Isn't time itself born in shit?" Led by the musicians, a thick complement of burly men accompanying the car began to pull it down the ramp like Volga Boatmen....The two-story showroom had double-paned glass on three sides; parked in its center was a gold Pontiac Firebird with its windows blacked out. Interspersed among the spectators, the musicians carried on while the Pontiac drove out and was replaced by the Chrylser. From under the hood came plumes of smoke, cuing the great Oaxacan singer Lila Downs to appear with a mariachi band on the balcony above to perform a haunting dirge. When they were done, the salesmen thanked us for our "business" and asked us to leave so they could clear the smoke. (Mullins was also carried out.)

As a nearly full moon rose above, an interior garage door opened and out came a front loader with a big steel wheel attached to its crane. Six hundred noses pressed against the windowpanes, only to be repelled by the smack of debris thrown by the carnal wheel as the machine tore at the car like a mad, lustful dog humping and grinding its prey. It took about thirty minutes to exhaust itself in the most erotic machine-sex act in recent memory.

[Later, in the "tomb",] the Firebird, now bearing Mullins, was parked between two long rows of Chryslers in need of service. Mouse, the British performance artist, was standing naked at the center, leaning on one of Barney's signature white resin canes and holding a white snorkel-like thing that was sticking out of her vagina.

Lila Downs reappeared to sing another dirge, a cappella, and one of the dealership's "mechanics" reached up between Mouse's legs to draw out a long piece of black plastic turd. With majestic patience, the mechanic and his cohorts slowly unfolded it into a large shroud that they placed over Mullins—and the performance ended in a blackout."

LA Times critic Christopher Knight was critical of the performance, calling it "corny", "obvious", and "cliche". He gives the following description of the performance:

"On the lot's upper deck, three taco trucks pulled away to reveal the smashed-up Imperial, painted scarab green and resting on the back of a flatbed truck. A pair of feet protruded from a shroud-draped lump on the roof, strewn with potatoes, while a huge, dirty black sphere protruding from the car's crumpled trunk turned the holy Egyptian bug into an industrial-strength dung beetle, feeding on feces.

A car dealer made rambling remarks. Then, in sweltering heat, nearly four dozen dirt-smeared laborers used thick ropes to drag the funeral bier off the flatbed, down a long ramp, across the asphalt and, after dismantling some parts, into the glass-fronted showroom.

This ritual procession was followed by industrial-strength intercourse between a backhoe and the Imperial, which smashed up the showroom interior. Glass and metal went flying and three audience members sustained minor injuries.

When paramedics left, the crowd filed into the tomb -- actually the car-lined former service bay. Lila Downs, the great Oaxacan ranchera singer, wailed at a corpse laid out atop a golden Grand Am. A "menstrual shroud" was extracted from the loins of a masked nude woman. Somebody said that locusts were released in the parking lot, but I didn't see them."

Read More:
LA Times Diary

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Elizabeth Peyton Paints Matthew Barney

We apologize for posting this information after the show has closed, but Elizabeth Peyton's recent solo exhibition at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York featured the above portrait of Matthew Barney, titled Matthew March 2008.