Friday, October 8, 2010
Artforum.com has published some more information on Matthew Barney's Khu performance/film shoot in Detroit:
"In Barney and Bepler’s telling, Khu is a crime story featuring the double-amputee athlete Aimee Mullins as an FBI gumshoe named Isis and a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial as Osiris. (The protagonist-vehicle was dismembered during Act One’s Ren two years ago at a bulletproof car dealership outside LA.)." In a short prologue screened at the Detroit Institute of Arts before the performance, "Barney drives a golden Pontiac Firebird Trans Am—which emerged from the ashes of the Chrysler in Ren—through the guardrail of Detroit’s Belle Isle Bridge. (For the uninitiated, Harry Houdini, Barney’s mentor-by-proxy, also went over the bridge—in a coffin—in 1906, an act Barney invoked at the end of Cremaster 5.)....
Actors playing stone-faced security guards commanded us to board three chartered buses that drove us in a funereal procession through Detroit to an abandoned glue factory on the Rouge River. Inside, workers assembled fifteen oddly shaped steel viols for as many musicians, who played like droning tone-deaf bees while accompanying Detroit-based soul singer Belita Woods in an aria to the two cars....Tugboats carrying a brass section announced our arrival at the riverbank crime scene where Mullins made her entrance and directed the wreck of the Chrysler to be dredged from the deep while assistants wailed like banshees at the muddy sight of it and a helicopter buzzed the barge from above....
We had reached an abandoned steel mill where five mountain climbers dressed in gold lamé stood atop five skyscraping silos, an evocation of the Detroit-born Byars, best known for his use of gold leaf in a performance of his death. We followed in procession behind the brown 2001 Ford Crown Victoria carrying Mullins, now “under arrest,” to a platform facing the forbidding mill, where masked workers toiling in a spectacular construction pit were smelting iron in five white-clad furnaces spitting embers into the frigid air.
And there we stood in pelting rain for a back-aching eternity, watching the workers’ repetitive actions, listening to the musicians play their dissonant industrial sounds and the singers shriek, awaiting rapture. Darkness fell, the wind came up, and the temperature dropped, but we stood our ground. At last, something new entered the scene: a dump truck that dropped the Chrysler remains for the workers to feed to the furnaces....
All of a sudden, rivers of golden lava sluiced through the site, radiating a blessed heat. I heard cheers. But our excitement was very short-lived. Burly guards rushed us off the platform with an urgency that told us danger was near, bringing the performance to an abrupt close before the final scene, when a vulture was to rise from the fire. Apparently water can ignite powerful explosions if it meets molten steel."
In addition to the artforum.com post (which has many pictures of the art world celebrities who attended) some photos have begun to pop up on Flickr:
Monday, October 4, 2010
Matthew Barney performed his latest work, Khu, in Detroit last Saturday. The performance was filmed and will be integrated with previously-shot footage to become a new installment in Barney's Ancient Evenings series. Although the six-hour performance and film shoot on the Detroit and Red Rivers was marred by rain and icy temperatures (which caused a problem with some special effects during the final scene), the performance appears to have been quite a spectacle. James Franco, Bjork, Barbara Gladstone, and Sadie Coles were among the attendees.
The Detroit Free Press (misspelling the title as "Kuh") reports on the performance:
"A team of FBI homicide investigators discovered the remains of a murder victim in a body bag, in this case, a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial. An industrial crane lifted it from the river and deposited it on deck. Four zippy red towboats circled the barge, each carrying a group of saxophonists and a percussionist who played tolling, foghorn and call-and-response figures.
Female officers, who sang chant-like melodies, unwrapped the car. The lead detective recoiled at the mangled horror. The engine was removed, and someone put live snakes into it. The detective dropped her pants, rubbed mud on her thighs and sat on the engine block....
We were bused to the River Rouge complex and deposited at a glue factory, where workers built gorgeous silver viols played by some 15 musicians as Belita Woods sang a lovely, spiritual-like aria that set the scene. Then it was on to the 185-foot barge for a journey down the Rouge and Detroit rivers. Essentially, we were in the midst of a murder caper filtered through the myth of Osiris and Isis, with the fallen Chrysler as Osiris, god of the underworld....
The final tableau, a shoreline factory in Trenton with rusty silos as tall as skyscrapers and furnaces spouting fire, was a stunning sight against the ominous sky. Musicians flanked the end zones of the scene, workers stoked the blazes, and figures in top hats perched at the top of the silos, held in place by harnesses. Sundry weirdness ensued, before molten iron finally came pouring out of the furnaces and golden filigree streamed down the silos. The furnaces were supposed to all burst at once, but the weather contributed to some technical snafus and the lava staggered out in shifts."
More information (including a list of the cast: Aimee Mullins, Eugene Perry, Herbert Perry, Jennie Knaggs, Faruq Z. Bey and Belita Woods) and photos of the performance have been posted on the Lipstick Tracez blog.