At long last, the Matthew Barney backlash has begun! I don't know about you, but about halfway down the Guggenheim ramp I started looking at my watch, and I don't wear a watch. I mean, the guy's had some good sculptural ideas (I like all the Cronenbergian organic stuff) but seriously needs an editor. He's enjoyed a miraculously bump-free ride since he got out of Yale--certainly the art world's never given him any serious whacks. Every new Cremaster release received a respectful magazine spread, no matter how slow-paced and taxing they were to watch. I heard through the grapevine that Barney was mad when Michael Bevilacqua started appropriating those silly orange-coiffured characters in his paintings. This is like Bush's recent complaint that the press was devoting too much attention to the California election and not enough to him, at least in terms of eliciting our sympathy. Anyway, back to the backlash. First, here's a PreReview of the Cremaster cycle, and as you may know, you don't get those published if you've actually seen the movies. Also, Michael Atkinson offers some amusing Suggestions for Future Cremasters in the Village Voice. Here's the prospectus for Cremaster 8:
Wearing a bronze jockstrap, an astronaut's helmet, and a coat of mango-peach latex paint, Barney scales Angkor Wat while the Green Bay Packers sit in an empty swimming pool, taking turns blowing up a used-car-lot balloon figure of Uncle Sam through a valve on its crotch. Cambodians slowly fill up the pool with cups of guacamole. By the time Barney finishes his climb and sings "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' On It," the Packers are immersed.
It's surprising a film critic finally took Barney on; most have been too intimidated by the aura of art to risk making fun of the movies as movies. I'm tempted to say Atkinson's is a philistine take on Barney, but he kind of captures the air of total indulgence that's so annoying. ("I know! I'll bring in the Rockettes and they can do a routine on the ramp, and it'll be like conflating art and showbiz, an' critiquing-patriarchy-but-not-really, and..." "Yes, Matthew, I'll call Rockefeller Center this afternoon [he'll bite my head off if I say it's stupid].") Also, I seriously doubt MB is "sittin' on" much of his art at this point. Or is that just the hype working its magic on me?

- tom moody 8-18-2003 10:31 pm