hobart-australia

Matthew Barney, Boat of Ra, 2014, wood, resin-bonded sand, steel, furniture, cast bronze, gold-plated bronze, 11 × 50 × 24'.

Matthew Barney

Mona - Museum of Old and New Art

Matthew Barney, Boat of Ra, 2014, wood, resin-bonded sand, steel, furniture, cast bronze, gold-plated bronze, 11 × 50 × 24'.

Matthew Barney’s vastly ambitious “Cremaster” cycle, 1994–2002, was finished and presented in that window between 9/11 and the financial collapse of 2008. Not surprisingly, several critics saw it as a bloated corollary to American pomp and male triumphalism. The US has faced some harsh truths since then, but Barney’s follow-up project, “River of Fundament,” 2008–14, is just as grandiose: a series of epic performances, a five-hour-long film-cum-opera scored by Jonathan Bepler, drawings, storyboards, and a group of monumental sculptures. As with “Cremaster” there are cars, metamorphosing figures, and excrement. Houdini and the Freemasons are evoked. Most of all, there is Norman Mailer. But whereas “Cremaster” drew on Mailer’s greatest book, The Executioner’s Song (1979), here Barney chose one of his most problematic: Ancient Evenings (1983), a long-winded, fairly pornographic account

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2015 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.