Thursday, March 11, 2004

My lord, what's happening in Spain?

And as long as I'm talking about the news, RIP Spalding Gray. The news was as sad as it was unsurprising, especially after I read this. I saw him perform his monologue "It's a Slippery Slope" in Missoula about six years ago. He was always one of those artists who excited me because the seeming simplicity and directness of his approach made what he was doing seem radically new. I have similar feelings now about Matthew Barney, having seen Cremaster 3 last night. Wow, man. Of course there's nothing simple or direct about what Barney does in his films; they're as baroque and complex as an cut-up of Escher prints and Eraserhead would be, in full color yet. But I do get a strangely similar feel of the most direct possible access to the artist's unconscious—which is not to say there isn't a considerable amount of ironic and formal mediation, wildly on display in Barney's work and visible as visual discretion (the plaid shirt, the table, the glass of water) in Gray's. Seeing them in action gave me that feeling I get from the best poetry, a feeling called inspiration by any other name.

As near as I can tell, Cremaster 3 is "about" the aggression behind the masculine cabal that stands behind masculine/capitalist acts of creation, however beautiful the works themselves, such as the Chrysler Building, might be. Anyway. Astonishing images, some quite disturbing. Quite a bit of verbal humor too, in the credits and in the levels of "The Order." Has anyone written poems inspired by Barney? It seems too obvious an angle to pursue, but you could do a lot with the figure of Aimee Mullins (the beautiful model/athlete with no legs below the knee) alone. And there's two more movies to go!

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