Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Matthew Barney on Film

Cremaster 5
Cremaster 5
"The most important artist of his generation" - New York Times

This July the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) invites you to enter the surreal world of visual artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney with the essential season of Matthew Barney on Film.

Darling of the art and film worlds, Matthew Barney shattered genres with his legendary 'visual opera' the Cremaster Cycle, and broke new ground with Drawing Restraint 9. His work in avant-garde video making and art has earned him riotous praise from critics and audiences the world over.

This season of Barney classics explores his singular vision and unique combination of art and film that fuses sculptural installations with performance and video. Barney's work is gender bending, body oriented and idea laden, but also wickedly funny, and in its visual extravagance, creates its own awe-inspiring glamour.

ACMI was the first to screen the Cremaster Cycle in 2004, and also enjoyed successful encore screenings in 2006 to coincide with the release of Drawing Restraint 9 (2005) and No Restraint (2006). This encore season is a must for established Barney fans and a chance for new audiences to experience these rarely screened works.

Described by The Guardian as "one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema", Barney's Cremaster Cycle is an intricate and eye-popping blend of Masonic lore, Celtic myth, historical and biological film and genres ranging from thriller to western to musical and points in between.

Created over an eight year period, Barney eschewed chronological order, first producing Cremaster 4 (1994) followed by Cremaster 1 (1995), Cremaster 5 (1997), Cremaster 2 (1999) and Cremaster 3 (2002). Barney both wrote and directed all five films - and starred in four - while Jonathan Bepler, a long-time Barney collaborator, composed and arranged the soundtracks.

This epic cycle explores processes of creation and takes its name from the muscle that regulates the height of the testicles in the body based on outside temperature or inner emotions. The project is rife with biological metaphors and anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation. The Cremaster Cycle, taken chronologically, represents the movement from ascended (or undifferentiated) to descended (or differentiated) and is lubricated with lashings of Vaseline and a playful sensibility.

The individual episodes of the Cremaster Cycle will screen over three nights, from July 3-5. On Sunday 11 July ACMI will present the Cremaster Cycle marathon; this is a rare chance to witness one of the most ambitious series of films ever made. The full Cremaster Cycle is not readily available on DVD, meaning that the only way to see it is on the big screen.

Drawing Restraint 9 is the spectacular cinematic collaboration between flagrantly unrestrained Barney and Icelandic songstress extraordinaire Björk. Myth and biology collide in this visually spellbinding movie/installation piece that combines Barney's unique visual sensibility with Björk's electro/orchestral soundtrack. The film takes place aboard a Japanese whaling ship, where two occidental tourists (Barney and Bjork) celebrate their love in a most unusual tea ceremony below deck while a huge petroleum jelly sculpture sets above.

Alison Chernick's documentary No Restraint is a film that literally gets on board the whaling ship set of Barney's Drawing Restraint 9 and charts the creation of this poetic Japanese love story. No Restraint explores both the process and history of Barney's artistic practice, from his influences to the logistical challenges of making his films, such as hoisting 45,000 pounds of petroleum jelly into a mold on board a Japanese whaling vessel. Featuring interviews with those who know Barney best (including his father, gallery owner Barbara Gladstone and former Walker chief curator Richard Flood), it sheds a fascinating light on the artist's mythology.

Also screening as part of this season is Destricted (2006) a collection of 7 short films by the world's leading art and film practitioners, including Barney's short Hoist, which explores the boundaries between pornography and sex. One of the most controversial and topical films of recent years, Destricted was voted Art Forum's best film for 2005 and has screened at the Tate Modern in London, Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Sundance and Edinburgh Film Festivals.

The contributors, Matthew Barney, Larry Clark, Gasper Noé, Richard Prince, Marina Abramovic, Marco Brambilla and Sam Taylor-Wood produce their own very different interpretations of pornography and eroticism, which make for confronting, humorous and at times deeply poignant viewing.

Matthew Barney on Film runs from 1-11 July at ACMI. Visit http://www.acmi.net.au/ for more information on the season.

Further information

Samatha Chater
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
[email] Samantha.Chater@acmi.net.au
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