Saturday, January 12, 2013

Matthew Barney Floats Norman Mailer's House Down The East River

The Wall Street Journal has published a lengthy article about the filming of Matthew Barney's River of Fundament. The film is the latest installment in Barney's Ancient Evenings series, based on a book Norman Mailer about the Egyptian afterlife. Barney began working on the sculptural components for River of Fundament last August in his Long Island City, Queens studio and has been filming in New York City. Perhaps the most remarkable element is a life-sized floating replica of Mailer's four-story Brooklyn brownstone. The house has been filled with items borrowed from Mailer's actual home. A tugboat towed the building down the East River from Barney's studio to the Brooklyn Bridge for a film shoot, where an actress playing Norman Mailer's widow sang Walt Whitman's poetry to the bridge.
The cast of River of Fundament includes well-known actors Paul Giamatti and Maggie Gyllenhaal, as well as paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins (who appeared as the Entered Novitiate in Barney's Cremaster 3) and avant-garde vocalist Joan La Barbara. In addition, Norman Mailer's son John Buffalo Mailer (pictured above) will appear in the film, playing a reincarnation of his father. The younger Mailer told the WSJ, "I've been lucky enough to know two geniuses in my life. My father is one and Matthew Barney is the other. I think my dad is up there dancing a jig he's so happy about how Matthew has taken the ball and run with this." In addition to Mailer's floating home, props for the film have included a cow carcass containing a surprise fetus, rotting pigs, two 12,000-pound blocks of salt and a gold 1979 Trans Am that was plunged into Newtown Creek (a polluted industrial waterway separating Brooklyn and Queens). Shooting will pause for the winter, but a large-scale performance in New York is planned for next spring.

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