Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Matthew Barney: DJED

Matthew Barney, the ever-controversial art-world darling perhaps best known for his Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002), a collection of highly provocative performance-art films made over a period of eight years, presents his new solo exhibition,“DJED," at New York's Gladstone Gallery. In the exhibition, Barney reworks ancient tropes with a modern hand. The eponymous sculpture on the first floor of the gallery is a sprawling floor installation, much like a hardened black lake, crafted from poured molten cast iron and graphite and containing the actual remains of a 1967 Chrysler Imperial that Barney salvaged from a lake in his Detroit performance piece "KHU.” Secret Name, which resides upstairs in the gallery, includes a slab of rusted copper, a thick winding rope, and a seemingly calcified fragment of what appears to be a door that has been underwater for years, recalling in an eerie and nostalgic manner the remains of a shipwreck. Canopic Chest, a large-scale installation piece of weathered cast bronze that also contains actual automobile parts, mingles the visual elements of a car wreck and an industrial worksite. These relics of accidents, as they appear, are presented individually within a stark, sweeping white room—the silent, still and vaguely apocalyptic counterparts to Barney’s intensely visceral KHU. DJED is named after an ancient Egyptian symbol associated with the god Osiris, whose body was cut into pieces before it was retrieved and reassembled. If KHU parallels the cutting-up of Osiris’ body, DJED is the retrieving and reassembling of those parts—a ghostly panoply of mayhem and destruction. The pieces are primitive yet utterly modern, making the ancient Egyptian themes of the afterlife and mummification relevant within the landscape of an industrial wasteland. Below, a few pictures from the exhibition:

Canopic Chest

Secret Name

DJED is on view until October 22nd at Gladstone Gallery, 520 W. 21st St, New York.