Anyone who knows (and who doesn’t?) Matthew Barney’s recently concluded Cremaster cycle, with its baroque symbolic systems and rituals of performance, should be at least partially primed for De Lama Lâmina (From Mud, a Blade), a collaboration between the artist and American-Brazilian musician Arto Lindsay for this year’s Carnival in the Bahian city of Salvador. Staged as a performance but scripted and filmed for possible future exhibition, the work is intriguing, not in the least because Barney’s identification with the Cremaster films has been so extreme, a decade-long realigning of art production and ambition on a spectacular scale. Yet to label this new work a transition—or as Barney puts it, “detox”—is to tell only part of the story.

De Lama Lâmina’s Carnival context seems tailor-made for Barney’s long-term preoccupation with scoring and performing metaphorical structures. A variation

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