Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More on Barney & Peyton's Blood of Two has published their account of the performance/opening of Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton's "Blood of Two" exhibition at the Deste Foundation's new Slaughterhouse exhibition space:

"We sat, watching the sun rise over the lapis-blue Aegean and waiting. For a time, the only action came from those jostling for position on a stone wall above a ravine sloping down to the sea. Finally, a boat pulled into the cove, and a couple of divers went into the water. “They’re going to bring it up now,” said Gavin Brown director Corinna Durland, declining to say what “it” might be. “It’s been down there for two months.” After an indeterminate pause, we could see one diver pulling on a rope attached to a winch on the boat.

This went on for quite a while. Eventually, what looked like a table emerged from the water and was placed on the boat, which then put into shore. Ten Greek laborers in T-shirts and jeans roped the table––actually a bronze display case weighing 750 pounds––as if it were a calf and lifted it onto land, hauling it up a zigzagging stone staircase to the road. Watching them struggle to lift this piece of Barneymania up the slope was almost painful, though the sight kept Juergen Teller glued to his camera. Whenever the ropes slipped out of the men’s hands or one lost his footing, it was clear that the process could crush them. Suddenly, a herd of goats and a few lambs appeared on the road, their bells tinkling, and the whole scene began to feel like an outtake from a Bresson movie.

Then the pallbearers––it was difficult to think of the laborers as anything else––reached the road and placed Barney’s bier on a donkey cart. By this time, we could see five framed drawings under the glass top of the vitrine, which had taken on water. Two of the men appeared carrying a smallish dead shark (a dogfish) and placed it on top. Everyone with a camera closed in on the cart, now hitched to a donkey, and accompanied it in a funereal procession along the coastline toward what was once the island’s slaughterhouse, but is now a Deste Foundation project space, dodging animal droppings all the way. “This road is a perfect metaphor for life,” [curator Massimiliano] Gioni commented. “It’s steep and full of shit.”

Inside the slaughterhouse, on a promontory over the sea, a framed still life by Barney and a drawing by Peyton were hanging in former stalls. In the main room, where there was space for only about fifty witnesses, three of the men worked to get the glass top off the bier. At one point, Peyton craned her neck to check out the drawings in their watery case. “They’re still there,” she whispered to Barney. “The cat looks good.” At last, we could hear water rushing out of the vitrine and down the blood drain to the sea, and the men lifted the glass. Barney looked at his watch. “Just about two hours,” he said to Peyton. “Not bad. After all, there’s a limit to how long you can ask people to wait.” Coming from the king of slow, this seemed even more astonishing than the event.

With the glass removed, the drawings became more legible as they dried. By evening, when Joannou’s organization set a single long table for three hundred in the road above the slaughterhouse, they took on a beautiful glow. Dinner went on for a few hours as the shark roasted on a spit till the flesh fell from its bones."

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