Monday, June 18, 2012

Matthew Barney Previews Ancient Evenings Film In Amsterdam

Blend reports that Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler have been working on a residency in conjunction with Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum and the Holland Festival. The two recently presented a rough cut preview of the film Ancient Evenings at the Frascati theater. "Ancient Evenings consists of seven acts, which mirror the seven stages of the soul in Egyptian mythology as it passes from the deceased body to rebirth. In the novel this progression is told through a man who has reincarnated three times. Barney and Bepler have replaced the man with the body of a car. The car will pass on through three generations as well: from Chrysler Crown Imperial 1967 to Pontian Firebird Trans Am 1979, which will end up as a Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor 2001. The eventual film will be the result of taped performances in front of an audience, as well as material directly shot in front of the camera." The rough cut of the film, "opens with beautiful long shots of bubbling mud, parts of gold leaf moving in the wind, desolated factories and a man waiting in a car. The car is outside of a church, which is entered by two detectives. In the church there is the body of an American muscle car, which is thoroughly examined by the detectives, as if it were a crime scene or an autopsy. Suddenly the man who has been waiting enters the church. He moves to the altar, where an ambulance has been placed. The ambulance is covered with gold leaf on the inside, and has a man dressed in a golden straitjacket. The man is been put into the car with his arms strapped to his body and a blindfold on, as well as several top hats. As a large Egyptian wand is pierced through the car window, the car starts to drive. The detectives escort it to a bridge, where it dives in the water." Barney also showed a clip from the Khu performance recorded live in Detroit last year. Blend reports, "In front of an audience on a large boat... A huge body bag containing a car is being pulled from the river onto the boat. Various detectives on the scene are singing it to, and in a small tugboats circling around the bigger boat violin- and trumpet players are making music." Following the screening, Barney and Bepler brought live performers and opera singers (with whom they have been working during their residency) onto the stage. "It is clear that this is not your average theatre performance... The opera singers and musicians are playing a seemingly chaotic manner. Improvisations are sometimes brilliant, sometimes messy. The amazing British voice actor Phil Minton is great, singer (and actor in the film) Jennie Knaggs sings wonderfully and opera star Joan la Barbara does an interesting act."

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