header image headerimage    

Well, I've never even seen any of Matthew Barney's work, except some pictures on-line on the New York Times and the Village Voice web pages and yet I just want to be as wonderful as all the critics say he is.

Letters to Uday


Friday, October 08, 2004

so here's a double reason for envy. i was embarking on a story about candomble when i decided to do a web search and i found this about matthew barney. i can't help but feel he's encroaching on my territory and he's doing it better than me. but fuck, i don't own brazil, i'll just have to come to terms with that. but here's the other thing, i doubt i could get away with an article like this for the ap. and i didn't even know that film was being shown at the biennal and probably wouldn't have been able to see it any way.

Artist Barney looks to Brazilian godsFri 8 October, 2004 15:18
By Fernanda Ezabella
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Matthew Barney has choreographed dancing girls, filmed a demolition derby inside the Chrysler Building and dressed up like Harry Houdini all in the name of art.
In his latest work, the acclaimed U.S. artist, whose work melds scultpural installations with performance and video, is delving into the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture to expound on his vision of the creative process, the destruction of nature and cycle of life.
The 60-minute art film "De Lama Lamina" ("Of Mud a Blade") had its world premiere in Sao Paulo last month, when hundreds of art aficionados descended on the city to attend the opening of the Sao Paulo Bienniale, one of the world's largest international exhibits of contemporary art.
Part documentary, part fiction, "De Lama Lamina" captures a float built by Barney for the pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations in Salvador, Bahia, the cultural heart of Brazil's African, slave-descended culture.
The float consists of a gigantic, muddied forest tractor carrying an uprooted tree in front of it. Two actors -- one on the tree and another in the tractor -- play deities in the polytheistic Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble.
Like his most famous work, a cycle of five films known as the "Cremaster" series, "De Lama Lamina" is a meditation on the creative process, Barney told Reuters in an e-mail interview.
"Candomble ... became a catalyst for finding a way to express a faith in the balances in nature ... and through this faith being able to look at the world today without feeling hopeless," he said.
Although largely unknown to most people, Barney has received a lot of attention over the last years in art circles for "Cremaster." New York's Guggenheim Museum gave him a retrospective last year and the five "Cremaster" films have been shown around the world.
Even before then, though, Barney was making a splash. In 1999, The New York Times called Barney "the most important American artist of his generation."
Most recently, the handsome 37-year-old has been in the spotlight for his romantic relationship with Icelandic pop artist Bjork, with whom he has a child.
After his parents divorced, Barney spent his youth playing high school football in his native Idaho and visiting his mother in New York City, where he was introduced to the world of art. He graduated from Yale University, where he he created some of his early works.
Since then, Barney's artk -- part performance, part sculpture and part video -- continues to have very physical, athletic and sexual elements.
Indeed, the "Cremaster" films are named after a muscle that raises and lowers testicles depending on temperature, fear or external stimulation.
Strange, complex but visually exhilarating, the five films feature Barney in different roles. Together they weave history, autobiography and mythology into a dream-like reflection on gender, ritual, power, creation, and a myriad of other grand themes, according to art critics.
Two years after the completion of the "Cremaster" series, Barney unveiled "De Lama Lamina."
"Since he announced the end of the Cremaster cycle, I think a lot of people were waiting to see what he would do next," said Sergio Romagnolo, an artist and Barney fan.
The new film depicts the clash between nature and technology through two "orixas," or deities, in Candomble.
Barney's idea for "De Lama Lamina" began six years ago when the artist attended Carnival and decided he wanted to film something with a live audience, in contrast to the meticulously planned "Cremaster" movies, which took 10 years to make.
Atop Barney's 20-foot (6-m) tree a woman represents both Ossain, a Candomble orixa tied to plants and medicine, and Julia Butterfly Hill, an activist who lived two years on top of a California Redwood tree to stop it from being cut down.
Down in the tractor's machinery, Ogun, the deity of iron, engages in a Vaseline-greased ritual with machines that was not visible to Carnival onlookers but captured in the film. At one point he looks like he is trying to copulate with the tractor.
"Ossain is in contact with the forest, and Ogun is who takes the forest away on the way to create civilization," Barney said. "The contract between them has the same kind of duality that any orixa has, to destroy and create."
The tractor pulled a wagon of dirt atop which a musical band led by experimental musician Arto Lindsay played music. The whole endeavor is a twist on the typical "trio electricos," or moving sound stages, that snake down Salvador's winding streets during Carnival.
Ivo Mesquita, the exhibit's curator, said the film marked a new step for Barney.
"He's fusing documentary-style language, which he used in his first performances, with the fictional kind we've seen in films like Cremaster," Mesquita said. "It is very exciting to be able to see this work."

Monday, May 03, 2004

matthew barney's got a picture in the new yorker

radizan gilberto - criminal mythologist
what does he do?
it's a she.
okay, but what does she do?
listens to the alibis.

Friday, April 30, 2004

no money, no progress
if you don't bother to update your weblog nothing happens to it.
does anyone ever look?
probably not.
last night i had a cool dream
i was getting it on with ana rosa - i don't remember too many details, though
and all of a sudden her husband showed up and i had to hide in the closet -- dragger
then there was this scene where he was putting things in or getting things out of the closet -- i think he had a girlfriend with him, her name was celeste -- a tall thing blond with a curly blunt cut
he saw me hanging among the clothing --
he said something like "ana rosa, you never cease to amaze me"
and i said "she is rich, isn't she"
later i woke up and added this bit:
after i said what i said he dropped a glass he had been holding
it was no problem for him, he was wearing shoes -- but i was in bear feet wearing only jeans

ana rosa appeared with a short blond wig in a kind of acorn cut -- looking very much like giovanna antoneli
then she sat everyone down to eat french pasteries
they were like madelenes or what ever gold colored things
in the dreams she called the moulenes and brulees etc.
and i make some kind of comment to myself -- celeste was having a hard time following ana as she explained the culinary progression from brulees to moulenes, i couldn't blame her, i would have been having a hard time myself if i hadn't seen a documentary about them on gnt the week before. but the more she went on i began to think ana had cribbed the whole thing from the documentary. maybe she had worked as a producer on the show, or more likely she had video taped the whole thing to study it, but you had to hand it her to have gone out and bought all those pasteries, which is no mean feat in rio de janeiro. but then again that's just the type of thing brazilians do -- well, the rich ones, at least.

that's about when i woke up.

but there was one other thing, ana explained to tom that during the seventies i expended a lot of effort just to keep up with the sunglasses worn by elton john.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Here's my man Pedro Varela, who was in Salvador da Bahia, explaining how Matthew Barney's trio eletrico was percieved:

It was criticized for being too "intellectual" and it
was, but at least it was different and it had a theme
about it (he paraded with hughe mud-covered tractors).

The sound was interesting and the fact that there is
room for "new" stuff is what I liked about it. I
thought this year the Salvador carnival was more
visual and hopefully it will get even more so fom now

Well, you tell me. Is there any reason to be envious? Yeah, there probably is I mean when was the last time I mounted a trio-eletrico in Salvador ....

Friday, March 05, 2004

Hold that thought. It's not as far out as it might seem, the idea that Matthew Barney could on some sort of conceptual plane, at least, envy me. I remember a couple of years back, well, more than that like in 1998 when I was heading off to Roraima to cover fires in the Amazon. The night before I was leaving I interviewed Siba from Mestre Ambrosio and I mentioned I was heading off to the Amazon the next day and he was like "wow!" Like here was this cool musician who actually thought what I did for a living was cool. I'm not saying he envied me or anything but you know it was something along those lines and who am I to quibble.

Okay, so I wrote a couple of articles where i mentioned Matthew Barney -- so who knows? Maybe our names are both in print on the same page somewhere. I'm going to reprint the articles here. Okay, now here's the thing, Matthew Barney went to Bahia and mounted -- for lack of a better verb -- a trio eletrico. These are basically sound trucks but the thing is his was real strange -- for Bahia, at least. It was all covered in mud and stuff and there was some allusion to the Amazon rainforest being cut down. Now, just briefly, I entertained the thought that maybe, since I've written quite a bit about Amazon destruction, Matthew Barney has read something I wrote. And just maybe, he envies me, but nawh.

Here are the articles I wrote about carnival.

^Brazil's bawdy Carnival draws thousands of spectators<
%photo(^AP Photos<%)
^Associated Press Writers=
¶ RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ The samba group Tradicao kicked off the second and final night of Rio's carnival parade with a dance that honored the deities of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble.
¶ Tradicao was the first of seven groups that will mount massive parades through the night and into Tuesday morning, when Rio's carnival returns to the streets for one last day of partying.
¶ "It's fantastic. We have some lively events in the United States, but nothing compares to this," Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was quoted by the Jornal do Brasil news agency after watching Sunday's parade.
¶ Rio's carnival parades, are the highlight of the five-day pre-Lenten bash and they feature Rio's 14 top-tier samba groups.
¶ Each group has 80 minutes to parade thousands of dancers, singers and drummers down the 766-yard-long stadium in their bid to win over the crowd and judges and be declared champion.
¶ The championship brings little more than bragging rights. But carnival participants spend much of the year preparing for their moment of glory.
¶ The parade opened Sunday night to the riveting beat of a 300-piece drum section, when thousands of elaborately sequined and feathered dancers from the Sao Clemente group charged into the stadium in hail of fireworks.
¶ Next, the group Caprichosos mounted a parade honoring children's TV show presenter Xuxa and featuring a giant pyramid made up of over 120 mostly naked men in blue body paint.
¶ The Grande Rio samba group, whose parade advocating condom use was censured by the Catholic Church, marched early Monday with two of their floats covered in black plastic.
¶ Their samba, "Let's Wear the Little Shirt, My Love," slang for wearing a condom, upset the Church who sued at the last minute to require the school to cover floats depicting Adam and Eve having sex and another featuring scenes from the Kama Sutra.
¶ It wasn't the first time that the 70-year-old designer was sued by the church over one of his parades. In 1989, he was forced to cover a float depicting Rio's mountain top Christ statue.
¶ That year, he covered the statue parading under black plastic with a sign that said "Even though you are banned, watch over us." This year the signs on floats merely read "Censured."
¶ In the northeastern city of Salvador da Bahia, 750 miles northeast of Rio, Icelandic singer Bjork joined the fray.
¶ She paraded with the carnival group "Lama Lamina," or mud razor, put together by her boyfriend the artist Matthew Barney and the music Arto Lindsday.
¶ The group's sound truck was covered in mud and pulled by a tractor.
¶ "It's different but then carnival in Bahia is different," Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, was quoted by the O Globo news agency as saying.

r ibx
w0096 08 222
^Carnival officially begins in Brazil<
^Associated Press Writer=
¶ RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Carnival got underway with supermodel Gisele Bundchen dancing samba in a slum and prosecutors signing off on hastily added coverings to a Kama Sutra-inspired parade float that they had threatened to ban for being lewd.
¶ At city hall, Deputy Mayor Marco Antonio Valles handed a gold-plated key to the city over to Wagner Monteiro, this year's Fat King, to mark the symbolic start of the merriment.
¶ Traffic backed up for miles around the city as well-heeled residents rushed to get out of town and impromptu carnival groups clogged the streets in poor neighborhoods.
¶ "It's a symbol of our popular culture, of our identity and our international visibility," Rio Mayor Cesar Maia told The Associated Press via e-mail.
¶ Bundchen caused a stir on the city's poor north side where she visited Rio's most traditional samba group Mangueira. She even hazarded a stiff-limbed samba alongside some of the school's most accomplished dancers.
¶ Over at the workshop of the Grande Rio samba group, prosecutors signed off on modifications to floats they had threatened to ban for being lewd.
¶ Grande Rio, whose parade theme "Let's Wear the Little Shirt, My Love" _ slang for wearing a condom, has been a lighting rod for controversy in recent weeks, raising the ire of the Catholic church for it's pro-condom message.
¶ Banks, stores and government offices nationwide shut down for the nonstop celebrations which run until noon on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a period of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter.
¶ In the coastal city of Salvador, 750 miles (1,250 kilometers) northeast of here, whose carnival is growing to rival Rio's celebration, the party got underway Thursday, with bands playing atop speaker-laden trucks roving through streets.
¶ The Icelandic pop star Bjork and her boyfriend, the artist Matthew Barney, were among those attending.
¶ Further north, in Recife and Olinda, carnival groups playing speedy "frevo" music and thudding "maracatu" have crowded the streets since last weekend. In the far western Amazon city of Porto Velho, some 20,000 revelers turned out at midnight to begin celebrations.
¶ Even Sao Paulo, Brazil's normally staid business capital, was celebrating with their own samba parade.
¶ The highlight of Brazil celebration's is Rio's carnival parade Sunday and Monday nights. It features 14 top samba "schools" _ actually neighborhood groups, mainly from poor communities _ that have spent the year preparing for their moment of glory.
¶ Thousands of revelers cheer on each group, with up to 4,000 costumed dancers and drummers, as they parade along the 700-meter-long (700-yard-long) Sambadrome stadium in downtown Rio.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Well, it seems Matthew is in Bahia with his girlfriend Bjork. He's porking Bjork? I don't really envy him that. But what irks me is that he's in my neck of the woods discovering stuff I've discovered long ago and now he's going to appropriate it, put it on DVD maybe, while I have done nothing with it. My book proposal is dead in the water and all I got is this stupid statue. But that's life right? Matthew Barney keeps on plugging and me well, I'm still here in Rio.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

i got a call last night from my friend gordon. he asked if i knew who matthew barney is. pssheww!!!

This page is Powered By Blogger. Isn't yours?