Set against the backdrop of Carnaval in Salvador, Brazil, the movie cuts between shots of musicians performing on an elevated stage; images of sweaty, often splendidly costumed onlookers; ... See full summary »
Valter Vicente Pinho Neto,
In 2007, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler began a new collaborative project inspired by American author Norman Mailer's 1983 novel Ancient Evenings, set in pharaonic Egypt. The project ... See full summary »
Dave Bald Eagle,
John Buffalo Mailer
A video installation in which Satyrs grapple in a limousine as it drives through the tunnels of New York City. While one satyr chases its tail in the front seat, another attempts to make a ... See full summary »
In the Cremaster cycle, I think the whole starts to tear the further we move away from the feminine absolute. There's already signs of breakage in just the second entry. This is, I believe, because as a sculptor Barney has natural intuitions about cinematic space, so at its best the work is pregnant with a feel and subdued, but as a guy and thinker - like most of our species - he is a blowhard.
So it's not enough to be quietly effective. He has to think big and show bigger. He has to have cool insights that hint at things of importance.
You will need no better clue than the guys he has chosen to surround himself with here, all of them tribal tokens. Dave Lombardo has a drum session, a really cool figure to have in your art film that shows you are not effete. Steve Tucker bellows into a phone. And of course no one cooler than Norman Mailer. Barney himself plays killer Gary Gilmore.
But wait, I get that this is meant to be about the onset of male aggression, so the figures have their proper place. Mailer wrote the book and all that. But it has to be Dave Lombardo and not just some drummer, don't you see? It's all a matter of association, as well and (skin)deep as choosing to wear a specific band's t-shirt.
So here's the overall problem with Cremaster; I believe they were conceived in terms of space first, solid sculpted space communicating the air around the matter. He decided for whatever reason to make films around the actual objects, to be sold together, and because a story would be too ordinary, he came up with the testicular concept, as silly as that, for a map and to give him a pattern to sculpt to, ovaries, penises, vaginal tunnels. The copies made would be limited, 10 of each package, so important enough to own, another tribal token of underground music. Later, he could have the chance to explain that all of that also substitutes for the creative process and has personal value (a less precocious insight is that every film reflects its creative mind, down to Bay's Transformers).
So look what happens. The film itself is the air around the things he wants to present and that air, let's say the breath of the camera as it dissects space, has appealing qualities. It resonates with a female mystery, nearly transcendent, discovered.
You should know, however, that when the Buddhist - or any spiritual practice - speaks of transcendence, the word is not vaguely synonymous with any other superlative, the 'ecstacy' is always a transcendence of self; a transcendence of who you think you are and what you think you have to say, all of that conscious effort about propping up a self. In practical terms, it means Marienbad. It means The Passenger.
So the film works in the way it was put together, in this being sculpted with a camera. But when we reach the stage where the form in front of that camera has to mean something, all of that associative context is bogus. None of it cultivated with deep intuition.
Our insight is that the landscape does reflect its creative mind. In our case, all of it is ego satisfied at its own erection. It's Kubrick with Guggenheim pretensions. It's Greenaway without the sometimes deep thinker in Greenaway.
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