Matthew Barney – The Cremaster Cycle

Matthew Barney’s five-part Cremaster cycle is a self enclosed aesthetic system. Born out of a performative practice in which the human body symbolizes the potential of sheer creative force, the cycle explodes this body into the particles of contemporary creation myth. Since its inception in 1994, the Cremaster cycle has unfolded in time, as well as space to render visible some of the processes by which form – in its biological, psychological, and geological states – comes to be.
Matthew Barney was trained as a sculptor, yet in his works the sculptural elements are generally incorporated into larger contexts. The five films are documentations of ritualistic athletic exploits, magical transformations and gender audience. Each film has a central problematic, just as do classical myths; the protagonist is forced to overcome a series of increasingly difficult challenges before he/she reaches the goal. Barneys visual language is complex: drawing and film unite to engender photography and sculpture, which, in turn, produce more drawing and film, in an incestuous intermingling of materials that defies any hierarchy of artistic mediums. The experience viewers have of the photographs and the installations becomes a reconstructing act of the film’s private events, which can never be completely experienced or understood. The Cremaster Cycle has been on a large tour throughout Europe and USA before it comes to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo 13th September 2003. Matthew Barney worked there to build a special issue of this Cremaster Cycle.


His interview during the work in progress is completely new (never shown, never published). It has been recorded in Oslo for imageduc (September 2003).

require QuickTime 6
loading time : about 1 mn