Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Matthew Barney

"In his films, videos, and sculptural installations, Matthew Barney’s primary interest has been the transformation and metamorphosis of the physical body. In elaborate, ritualized performances Barney uses a highly developed visual language to address such themes as endurance, androgyny, autoeroticism, and spectacle. Drawing Restraint 7 is part of Barney’s ongoing interest in self-imposed restraint. He creates conditions in which it is an extreme challenge to draw on a surface, then attempts to do just that, stressing the notion that form cannot develop without resistance. Barney first experimented with this principle in Drawing Restraint 2, where he strapped himself to an elaborate harness and vaulted up to a pad of paper attached to the ceiling in an attempt to make marks" (http://www.walkerart.org/collections/artworks/drawing-restraint-7).

Matthew Barney Drawing Restraint 1 (1987)
"This early work was strikingly simple, ambitious, and desperate. The young Barney, who had been a star quarterback throughout high school, tapped an athletic vocabulary that had by then become part of his parasympathetic nervous system. The results—forms generated through the properties of repetition, physicality, and failure—held as true in his studio as they had on the playing field. Part video, part performance, Barney has continued to semi-autobiographically probe the body’s relationship to gravity, strength, architecture and desire" (http://dailyserving.com/2011/04/a-man-a-plan-an-award-matthew-barney-reconsidered-at-the-san-francisco-international-film-festival/).

Barney used the contraction of muscles, or resistance, to create form. The struggle to overcome said resistance took precedence over any kind of aesthetic mark. I too use resistance in my work. However, I'm not concerned with mark making, rather the struggle to overcome the challenge in front of you. Thereby making you physically and mentally stronger, and thus healthier. In the tradition of Allan Kaprow, I do not regard my art as removed from daily life, but rather as something that should create daily life. I'm trying to create healthy daily life situations for myself and the world.

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