Matthew Barney: Big Bucks, Many Whammies

Christopher Knight didn't have as bad a time at the performance/filming of Matthew Barney's "REN" as the audience members who were injured by flying glass when the backhoe went at it with the Chrysler Imperial in the auto dealer showroom:

When paramedics left, the crowd filed into the tomb -- actually the car-lined former service bay. Lila Downs, the great Oaxacan ranchera singer, wailed at a corpse laid out atop a golden Grand Am. A "menstrual shroud" was extracted from the loins of a masked nude woman. Somebody said that locusts were released in the parking lot, but I didn't see them.

Then we all drove home.

It had been a long evening of checking off source materials: Richard Prince, Paul McCarthy, Charles Ray, Kiki Smith, "Cleopatra," Al Gore, etc. The industrial coupling was pure Survival Research Labs, the Northern California heavy-industrial performance troupe that has been artistically disemboweling the military-industrial complex for 30 years.

Still, most interesting was the crypto-performance going on around the crypto-Egypto main event. Plenty of official cameras promised future "REN" shows, while performance shards were carefully collected.

I used to think that the most interesting thing about Barney's work was how he made it, or got it made. I'm not surprised that Barney's pressing his luck in the home the Live Studio Audience.

Matthew Barney's 'REN' [lat via man]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: May 22, 2008.

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