From Friday–Sunday, October 28–30, the Walker Art Center presents
Cremaster 1–5: The Parallel Universe(s) of Matthew Barney
, featuring afternoon and evening screenings of all five films in the cycle, as well as guided tours throughout the weekend of Barney’s work on view in the exhibition Quartet: Barney, Gober, Levine, Walker. The mesmeric power of Matthew Barney’s parallel film universe lies in its inevitable acceptance of an agenda that is ultimately human in its aspirations. It is never so alien as to shut the viewer out, nor so familiar as to make the viewer comfortable. He provides just enough of what we know to initiate a handshake, and more than enough of what we don’t to suggest that a new millennium demands a new mythology. Begun in 1994, the Cremaster cycle consists of five films, a formidable body of related sculpture, and hundreds of photographs and drawings. In 2003, the New York Times wrote: “Hands down, he is, at just shy of 36, the most compellingly, richly imaginative artist to emerge in years. Cremaster … gives us an inspired benchmark of ambition, scope, and forthright provocation for art in the new century.”
The Walker’s relationship with Barney goes back to 1993, when his video Drawing Restraint 7, as well as the drawing Envelopa: Drawing Restraint (Manual D), first entered the collection. The Walker’s 1999 exhibition Cremaster 2: The Drones’ Exposition marked the first time he combined all facets of the cycle (film, sculpture, photography, drawing) into one exhibition; that installation is now jointly owned by the Walker and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Walker is also the only museum in the United States to have collected all of the Cremaster films and a sculpture related to each. Visit the Friedman Gallery to see objects from Cremaster 2 in the exhibition Quartet: Barney, Gober, Levine, Walker. A recording of the 2003 Regis Dialogue between the artist and former chief curator Richard Flood will be available in the Walker Channel archives (channel.walkerart.org).
All films directed by Matthew Barney. Except where noted, tickets to each screening are $8 ($6 Walker members); a pass for all five films is $35 ($20). Tickets are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600. All screenings will be held in the Cinema. Screening prints courtesy Barbara Gladstone Gallery.
THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE(S) OF MATTHEW BARNEY
Friday, October 28, 8 pm
_Cremaster 1 _
The first film in the cycle (second in production) takes place on the blue Astroturf football field of Bronco Stadium in Barney’s hometown of Boise, Idaho. Two Goodyear blimps hover above the arena, each with a glamorous parcel of flight attendants in Isaac Mizrahi–designed uniforms and each with a stowaway played by legendary dominatrix Marti Domination. Using notations made of grapes, she choreographs an armada of chorus girls into patterns of biological cells forming the contours of an androgynous body that symbolizes, for the artist, a state of pure potential. 1995, U.S., color, 35mm, sound, 40 minutes.
Saturday, October 29, 3 pm
_Cremaster 2 _
$8 (free for Walker members)
The second film in the cycle (fourth in production) is a dark Gothic western that feverishly tracks three generations of condemned murderer Gary Gilmore’s family from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 to his execution in 1977. The story line hews closely to the historical Gilmore, while also exploring a fanciful parallel plot linking his clairvoyant grandmother to legendary escape artist Harry Houdini (played by Norman Mailer, author of The Executioner’s Song). 1999, U.S., color, 35mm, 79 minutes.
Saturday, October 29, 7 pm
_Cremaster 3 _
The final film of the five-part cycle ranks as the most mesmerizing and elaborately designed. It is set in New York’s 1930s gangster milieu against a background comprised of the Chrysler Building’s art-deco interiors, the Saratoga racetrack, the spiraling architecture of the Guggenheim Museum, and monumental landscapes such as the mythological Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. With Cremaster 3, Barney again combines his outspoken fascination for architecture and his preoccupation with the body, dance, and horror. Look for sculptor Richard Serra, who plays the antagonist. 2002, U.S., color, 35mm, 182 minutes.
Sunday, October 30, 2 pm
The fourth film in the cycle (first in production) most clearly shows Barney’s consistent utilization of landscape as character and establishes many of the themes that the artist weaves through the subsequent films. Shot on the Isle of Man, it combines Celtic custom and lore with sidecar motorcycle racing and a libidinal quest. Deep in the heart of the film is a tap-dancing ram-in-training (played by Barney) who is aided by a quartet of androgynous fairies as he engages in a series of challenges on the road to maturity. 1994, U.S., color, 35mm, 42 minutes.
Sunday, October 30, 4 pm
The fifth film (third in production) is a sumptuously moribund romance. Shot in Budapest, its over-the-top components include a spectacularly sepulchral Ursula Andress, a flock of trained Jacobean pigeons, gamboling water nymphs, and the Budapest’s State Opera House orchestra. With a score by Johnathan Bepler (longtime Barney collaborator) and a libretto by the artist, the film is a sustained operatic monologue sung by Hungarian soprano Adrienne Csengery and acted by Andress. 1997, U.S., color, 35mm, sound, 55 minutes.
Spotlight Tour: Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 2
October 28–30: Friday, 6 pm; Saturday, 4:30 pm; Sunday, 3 pm
Free with event ticket or gallery admission
Can’t get enough Barney? In tandem with screenings of his Cremaster films, take in a tour of sculptural elements from Cremaster 2 in the Walker exhibition _Quartet: Barney, Gober, Levine, Walke_r. See how the artist’s filmic work translates into vivid, surreal, and sometimes confounding visual installations. Meet in the Bazinet Garden Lobby.