Matthew Barney’s second entry into the Cremaster Cycle is #1, a forty-minute romp through the rituals of Americana… and sex. The biological act of sex is never far from Barney’s mind. Like David Lynch, Barney has a fascination with the post WWII United States from which he came, regurgitating his childhood nostalgia with an ironic depiction of sports and pageantry the way only someone like him can.
Cremaster 1 is slicker than its predecessor- you can tell his rich patrons kicked it up a notch with their underwriting, allowing his creative ambitions that much more headroom to grow in. Compared to his later work, however, it’s still a fairly humble affair, focusing mostly on a few “protagonists” to carry the narrative.
Great art or self-indulgence at its finest? The debate continues- but to Barney’s credit, he knows how to deliver a compelling image, and at least he has a sense of humor to keep the subject matter from getting too big for its britches.
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