Drawing Restraint 9 

Directed by Mathew Barney

Simultaneously beautiful and baffling, the video work of art world champ Matthew Barney continually frustrates: his magnum opus Cremaster cycle contains some unforgettable, hallucinatory imagery, but damned if us mere mortals can make complete, or even partial, sense of it. Drawing Restraint 9 follows the Cremaster vids but is also part of a series dating back to Barney’s early work, in which the former high school football player tests himself against obstacles in order to spur the creative process: form necessitates resistance. Ergo, somehow, Barney and partner Björk star in DR9 as two occidental guests who board the Nisshin Maru, the last operating factory whaling ship, and experience cytological metamorphoses while, via extended parallel sequencing, one of Barney’s signature giant Vaseline sculptures undergoes its own on deck. Jettisoning his usually grating Busby Berkeley and sports kitsch for lulling Japanese ritualism, Barney’s esoteric mythology finally frees itself of smugness and instead unabatedly mesmerizes.

Opens  March 29

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