new-york

“Matthew Barney: The CREMASTER Cycle”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

Dark Polaris snowmobiles stand dormant in a row, their cinematic image dissolving slowly into crags of glacial ice, so that shimmering silver logos are superimposed, for a moment, on a sublime landscape—as if all of nature’s territories were somehow tamed, enveloped, swallowed whole by the crystalline lettering. This kind of poetic abstraction appears regularly in advertising but, showing up in Matthew Barney’s CREMASTER 2, 1999, becomes all the more evocative for its artistic implications. In the stylized execution of Gary Gilmore that precedes it, Barney restages the legislated death as a final, ritualistic rodeo ride, suggesting that something more is at stake than any single killer’s demise. Solitary horsemen cross the surrounding salt flats at twilight, seeming to riff on Richard Prince’s Marlboro Men; and the horseshoe-shaped arena housing the choreographed death scene, while evoking

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