From: Susan Aurinko
Date: 04 January 2003
Matthew Barney / Cremaster Cycle Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Through 5 January, 2003
One does not have to understand Matthew Barney's work to appreciate it. The work is ambitious, enormous even, and extremely important, if for no other reason than its incredible complexity and cohesive essence in an era when nearly anything passes for art. It is filled with humor, both blatant and tongue-in-cheek, and speaks its own language, like the dialects that children invent to communicate among themselves without adults' comprehension. Barney is brilliant, warped, and prolific, and he allows us to walk like tourists through the world of his very private fantasies, holding back nothing. What we see is all we get, yet what he yields up is more than we can digest. There is no detail left out and no map to guide us through the maze of his internal dialogue. This body of work is complete, disturbing, and thought-provoking. Barney's use of unorthodox materials; petroleum jelly, resins and wax - all substances which change form, capable of form one moment and "inform" the next, further the intrigue. A bar made of frozen petroleum jelly oozing droplets of water - rendering it a "wet" bar, stunningly beautiful large scale photographs, seemingly suited to a Sierra Club calendar, of glacial landscapes in Canada, and, of course, Barney's remarkable video work, attest to his genius and accomplishment as an artist. This exhibit is nothing if not enormous and obscure, yet bits of it are as strangely familiar as the landscapes of our own dreams and nightmares.