Friday, April 27, 2007

National Museum of Singapore presents MATTHEW BARNEY - THE CREMASTER CYCLE AND DRAWING RESTRAINT 9 (13-16 June 2007)

Leave your inhibitions and logic at the door, and enter the sensuous, striking and disturbing world of Matthew Barney. Produced from 1994 till 2002, Matthew Barney's epic Cremaster cycle of films established his reputation as one of the most original artists of our time. Shot out of sequence - numbers 4, 1, 5, 2 and 3 - the films are jammed packed with a seemingly endless stream of visually stunning and original images that draw upon subjects as diverse as Hollywood movies, medical concepts, spiritual ideals, world mythology and biological systems, among other things.

His latest filmic work, Drawing Restraint 9 (2005), unfolds in a dream-like Asian setting. It features the creative input of his partner Björk, both in the mesmerizing score as well as playing a bride who travels to a Japanese whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru, for a bizarre wedding ceremony with an unnamed man played by Barney. The ending scenes alone will leave your eyes glued to the screen. Difficult to describe, his films never fail to provoke a reaction from the audience.

The National Museum Cinémathèque’s Alternative Visions series presents cutting edge work that pushes the boundaries of film and the moving image.

Cremaster 1 Dir: Matthew Barney 1995 / USA / 40 min / 35 mm / PG Cremaster 1 takes place on the blue Astroturf football field of Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho - Barney's hometown and the site of his high school football games. Hovering above the stadium are two Goodyear blimps, each inhabited by four flight attendants in immaculate Isaak Mizrahi designed uniforms. Beneath identical abstract Vaseline centerpieces in each blimp hides the stowaway Goodyear played by legendary performance artist Marti Domination, who forms diagrams with grapes that direct choreographic patterns created by a troupe of chorus girls on the field below. With a combination of the cool, detached universe of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and the exuberance of a Busby Berkeley musical, the all-female cast delineates the contours of a still-androgynous gonadal structure, which symbolizes a state of pure potential before sexual differentiation.

Cremaster 2 Dir: Matthew Barney 1999 / USA / 79 min / 35 mm / R21 For the second film of the Cremaster cycle, Barney reworks the Gothic western interweaving the stories of infamous murderer Gary Gilmore and escape artist Harry Houdini (played by Norman Mailer, who wrote The Executioner's Song, based on Gilmore’s life) into a dark tale of fate, justice and redemption. The film begins with a séance officiated by Baby Fay La Foe, Gilmore's grandmother, and traverses between 1977, the year of Gilmore's execution and 1893, where La Foe and Houdini supposedly had an affair after meeting at the World's Columbian Exposition. The desolate landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats is the setting for Gilmore's execution, where he fulfils the Mormon belief of redemption through blood atonement. Barney plays the role of Gilmore and is joined in the cast by Slayer's former drummer, Dave Lombardo, as Johnny Cash, country singer Patti Griffin as Nicole Baker, Gilmore's girlfriend and a whole lot of bees.

Cremaster 3 Dir: Matthew Barney 2002 / USA / 182 min / 35 mm / M18 The most ambitious and the final film to be completed in the Cremaster cycle, Cremaster 3 is set in New York City during the construction of the iconic Chrysler Building in 1930. In the film, the building itself is both a character and the setting for the struggle between the Architect, Hiram Abiff (played by sculptor Richard Serra), the purported architect of King Solomon's Temple, and the Entered Apprentice (played by Barney). The two of them reenact Masonic initiation rites of death and resurrection in a film that includes a series of startling imagery like the emancipated female corpse of Gary Gilmore, a demolition derby in the Chrysler Building's lobby, and the climatic crowning of the Chrysler Building in green and orange ribbons. Another setting of Cremaster 3 is the famed Guggenheim Museum, where a bizarre game called the Order is played by the Apprentice who must overcome obstacles representing the five stages of the Cremaster cycle on each level of the museum's spiraling rotunda. The film is bookended with the battle between the mythical giants Fionn MacCumhail and Fingal which resulted in the formation of the Isle of Man, where the next installment of the Cremaster cycle will take place.

Cremaster 4 Dir: Matthew Barney 1994 / USA-France-UK / 42 min / 35 mm / NC16 The misty windswept countryside of the Isle of Man is the setting for the first film that Barney created for the Cremaster cycle, and it tackles the themes of biology, man and machine, and desire, against the backdrop of a Tourist Trophy sidecar race between two opposing teams. Combining Celtic lore, racing and the libidinal quest for maturity, the film uses landscape as character and establishes many of the themes that will appear later for the rest of the Cremaster films. Barney plays the character of the Loughton Candidate, an impeccably dressed red-haired satyr who tap dances his way through a slowly eroding floor at the Queen's Pier, travels across the bottom of the Irish Sea, and climbs into womb-like Vaseline tunnel. A trio of androgynous fairies - the Loughton Faerie, the Ascending Faerie, and the Descending Faerie - tends to the Loughton Candidate as he prepares for his tasks.

Cremaster 5 Dir: Matthew Barney 1997 / USA / 55 min / 35 mm / M18 The lush dreamscape of late nineteenth century Budapest provides the setting for the final installation of the Cremaster cycle. Structured like a five act opera, Ursula Andress plays the Queen of Chain who laments for her Diva, Magician and Giant (all played by Barney) in a haunting song of love and despair. The tragic love story plays out from the proscenium of the neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House, onto the Lanchid Bridge and finally in the thermal pools of the Gellert Baths, as the Giant emerges climatically from the waters in a fully sexually differentiated state. Drawing Restraint 9 Dir: Matthew Barney 2005 / USA-Japan / 135 min / 35 mm / NC16 Drawing Restraint 9 is Barney’s latest film and it stars him and his partner Björk in the leading roles as Western guests on the Japanese whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru. As in the Cremaster cycle, Drawing Restraint 9 details the physical and mental transformation needed in the creative process. The film begins with an elaborate procession where hot petroleum jelly on a tanker truck is paraded from an oil refinery to the harbour and pumped into a giant open mold on the ship deck. The curing of the giant petroleum jelly sculpture on the deck of the ship as it travels to the icy seas of the Southern Ocean mirrors the courtship and story love of the two guests on the upper deck, as they undergo a series of Shinto inspired ceremonies where they are bathed, groomed and dressed in mammal furs. All this leads up to the spectacular and harrowing climax of the film, where they consummate their love by cutting away each other’s feet with flensing knives and transforming to whales.

Matthew Barney: No Restraint Dir: Alison Chernick 2006 / USA / 72 min / Beta / NC16 "No Restraint is an astonishingly voluptuous skeleton key to Matthew Barney" - The Village Voice How does artist Matthew Barney use 45,000 pounds of petroleum jelly, a factory whaling vessel and traditional Japanese rituals to create his latest art project? Barney plowed the waters off the coast of Nagasaki to film his massive endeavor, Drawing Restraint 9. The documentary Matthew Barney: No Restraint journeys to Japan with Barney and his collaborator Björk, as the visual artist creates a "narrative sculpture" telling a fantastical love story of two characters that transform from land mammals into whales. Official Selection 56th Berlin International Film Festival

Screening Schedule & Ticketing Information Wed 13 June / 7.30 pm / R21 / $10 Cremaster 1 (1995, 40 min) Cremaster 2 (1999, 79 min) Thurs 14 June / 7.30 pm / M18 / $10
Cremaster 3 (2002, 182 min) Fri 15 June / 7.30 pm / M18 / $10 Cremaster 4 (1994, 42 min) Cremaster 5 (1997, 55 min) Sat 16 June / 2.00 pm / M18 / $10 Cremaster 3 (2002, 182 min) Sat 16 June / 7.00 pm / NC16 / Free Admission (Seats available on a first-come-first-served basis, no booking required) Matthew Barney: No Restraint (2006, 72 min) Sat 16 June / 9.00 pm / NC16 / $10 Drawing Restraint 9 (2005, 135 min) Limited 5-in-1 Cremaster Cycle Pass for Cremaster 1 & 2 on 13 Jun, Cremaster 3 on 14 Jun and Cremaster 4 & 5 on 15 Jun at $22 available.

Counter Sales Stamford Visitor Services Counter, 10am - 8pm Canning Visitor Services Counter, 10am - 5pm Concession rates of 20% off full-priced tickets are available. For more information and online booking, please visit: http://www.nationalmuseum.sgTicketing enquiries, please call (65) 6332 3659 / (65) 6332 0111

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