Barney, that is, who some might say is as big and purple (think prose) as the dinosaur of the same name, making some as happy as others are annoyed. Whether art genius or art hooligan, Matthew Barney definitely gets your attention (even before he married alt-rock megastar Björk). His latest, currently unfolding project, “Ancient Evenings,” is a series of seven one-time-only performances.
These performances take place at various sites. The first, “Blood of Two,” took place in June of 2009 on a Greek island for the opening of the Deste Foundation art space there. The collaboration with artist Elizabeth Peyton involved goats, the preserved carcass of a shark, and a glass sarcophagus sealing up books and other artifacts that had been submerged in the sea for months. The shark was thrown on top of the sarcophagus after its retrieval from the water and carried funereal-style into the gallery. It was much more involved than this, of course, and you can read Linda Yablonsky’s Art Forum report on the proceedings here.
The second, “Khu,” created in collaboration with music composer Jonathan Bepler (who previously worked with Barney on the music for his “Cremaster” films) took place on October 2, 2010 in Detroit. An eight-hour-long extravaganza whose crime mystery narrative involves double-amputee Aimee Mullins as a blond Isis whose fragmented and strewn Osiris is a beat up Chrysler (at one point she has sex with his engine block), gold lamé-ladden mountain climbers, and fire-breathing silos, among other wonders I can’t begin to describe (including rain; it’s uncertain whether Barney was able to arrange that particular detail or not), not having seen them, myself. If you want to read Yablonsky’s firsthand account, click on this link.
Barney’s at it again, and he’s as grandiose and extravagant as any giant purple dinosaur trundling through the streets of Tokyo (or Detroit) ever could be. His morbid postmodern merry-making will continue at five as-yet-undisclosed locations in New York. New Yorkers watch out (take that phrase as you will)—and be sure to bring your raincoats)!