Guess where we are going today? At 1:00 SIFF Cinema (in Seattle) will begin playing the entire Matthew Barney Cremaster Cycle, plus his newest film De Lama Lâmina. Jealous? If you are interested in seeing the individual films, they will be played over the next four days.
Cremaster 2 is rendered as a gothic Western that introduces conflict into the system. Moving from 1977, the year of Gary Gilmore’s execution to 1893, when Harry Houdini (played by Norman Mailer), who may have been Gilmore’s grandfather, performed at the World’s Columbian Exposition.
Cremaster 3 The final piece of the Cremaster labyrinth to be filmed, Cremaster 3 narrates the construction of the Chrysler Building and the mythic Masonic struggle between the Architect (Richard Serra) and the Entered Apprentice (Matthew Barney). After a prologue steeped in Celtic mythology, the narrative begins with the female corpse of the undead Gary Gilmore digging her way out of a grave. Paralympic athlete, model, and double amputee Aimee Mullins hovers over the film like a dark muse, appearing in various guises including a cheetah/woman and chef slicking potatoes with blades attached to plexiglass legs. Beautiful, mysterious, and riveting.
Cremaster 4 adheres most closely to the project’s biological model. This penultimate episode describes the system’s onward rush toward descention. Set on the Isle of Man, the film absorbs the island’s folklore as well as its more recent incarnations—including the Loughton Candidate (Matthew Barney), a satyr with nascent horns that will grow to ram length.
Cremaster 5 is envisioned as a tragic love story set in the romantic dreamscape of late-nineteenth-century Budapest. Biological metaphors shift form to inhabit emotional states—longing and despair—that become musical leitmotivs in the orchestral score. The Queen of Chain (Ursula Andress) and her Diva, Magician, and Giant (all played by Barney)—enact collectively the final release promised by the project as a whole, but the Cremaster Cycle defers any definitive conclusion.
De Lama Lâmina (From Mud, A Blade) was filmed during Carnival 2004 in Salvador De Bahia, Brazil. A collaboration between Barney and avant-garde musician Arto Lindsay, De Lama Lâmina is a vivid illustration of Barney’s fascination with “biomechanical erotica.” Barney calls the film, “a meditation on the creative process…a way to express a faith in the balances in nature… and through this faith being able to look at the world today without feeling hopeless.”