The Cremaster Cycle
By Matthew Barney
Aquí, para toda nuestra audiencia latina y española, marcamos enlaces de interés referidos al CICLO CREMASTER.
Cremaster 1 Matthew Barney 1996 - 631.56 MB
Cremaster 2 Matthew Barney 1999 - 703.30 MB
Cremaster 3 Matthew Barney 2002 CD1 - 660.86 MB
Cremaster 3 Matthew Barney 2002 CD2 - 672.84 MB
Cremaster 3 Matthew Barney 2002 CD3 - 676.84 MB
Cremaster 4 Matthew Barney 1994 - 704.55 MB
Cremaster 5 Matthew Barney 1997 - 705.60 MB
See also: The Cremaster Cycle: A Conversation with Matthew Barney [Format: mpg | Size: 580mb]
… the artist guides the camera through this remarkable creation at the Guggenheim Museum while being questioned by Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of the New York Times, who has called Barney "the most important artist of his generation". The ramps of Frank Lloyd Wright's museum are filled with Barney's sculptures complemented by plasma screens showing the Cremaster films. The sculptures - constructed from the artist's signature materials, including plastic, metal, and Vaseline - are three-dimensional incarnations of the characters and settings. They exist independently from the films, but embody the same content, now expressed in space rather than time. –This documentary provides insight into Matthew Barney's work and his mythic Cremaster Cycle.
The cycle unfolds not just cinematically, but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produces in conjunction with each episode.
Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation: Cremaster 1 represents the most "ascended" or undifferentiated state, Cremaster 5 the most "descended" or differentiated. The cycle repeatedly returns to those moments during early sexual development in which the outcome of the process is still unknown�in Barney's metaphoric universe, these moments represent a condition of pure potentiality. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology.
CREMASTER 1 (1995) is a musical revue performed on the blue Astroturf playing field of Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho�Barney's hometown. Two Goodyear Blimps float above the arena, each tended by four air hostesses. In the middle of each cabin interior sits a white-clothed table, its top decorated with an abstract centerpiece sculpted from Vaseline and surrounded by clusters of grapes. In one blimp the grapes are green, in the other they are purple. Under both of these otherwise identical tables resides Goodyear (played by Marti Domination). Inhabiting both blimps simultaneously, this doubled creature sets the narrative in motion. After prying an opening in the tablecloth(s) above her head, she plucks grapes from their stems and pulls them down into her cell. With these grapes, Goodyear produces diagrams that direct the choreographic patterns created by a troupe of dancing girls on the field below. The camera switches back and forth between Goodyear's drawings and aerial views of the chorus girls moving into formation: their designs shift from parallel lines to the figure of a barbell, from a large circle to an outline of splitting and multiplying cells, and from a horizontally divided field emblem (Barney's signature motif) to an undifferentiated reproductive system (which marks the first six weeks of fetal development). Gliding in time to the musical score, the chorus girls delineate the contours of a still-androgynous gonadal structure, which echoes the shapes of the two blimps overhead and symbolizes a state of pure potential.
CREMASTER 2 (1999) is a gothic Western that introduces conflict into the system. On the biological level it corresponds to the phase of fetal development during which sexual division begins. In Barney's abstraction of this process, the system resists partition and tries to remain in the state of equilibrium imagined in Cremaster 1. The looping narrative of Cremaster 2 moves from 1977, the year of Gary Gilmore's execution, to 1893, when Harry Houdini, who may have been Gilmore's grandfather, performed at the World's Columbian Exposition. The film is structured around three interrelated themes�the landscape as witness, the story of Gilmore (played by Barney), and the life of bees�and describes the potential of moving backward in order to escape one's destiny. Both Gilmore's correlation with the male bee and his kinship to Houdini (played by Norman Mailer, Gilmore's real-life biographer) are established in the s�ance/conception scene. Gilmore's sense of his own doomed role as drone is expressed in the ensuing sequence in a recording studio where Dave Lombardo, former drummer of Slayer, is playing a solo to the sound of swarming bees and a man shrouded by bees growls into a telephone. These figures allude to Johnny Cash, who is said to have called Gilmore on the night of his execution in response to the convict's dying wish.
Barney depicts Gilmore's murder of a Mormon gas-station attendant in both sculptural and dramatic forms. Inferring that Gilmore killed out of a longing for union with his girlfriend, Nicole Baker, he represents their relationship through two conjoined Mustangs that, coincidentally, they both owned. In the murder sequence, Gilmore shoots his victim in the back of the head. This act sets in motion the trial and verdict that will condemn him to death. Barney stages the judgment of Gilmore in the Mormon Tabernacle. Gilmore refuses to appeal his sentence and opts for execution by firing squad, in a literal interpretation of the Mormon belief that blood must be shed in order for a sinner to obtain salvation. His execution is staged as a prison rodeo in a cast-salt arena in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats. In Barney's interpretation of the execution, Gilmore was less interested in attaining Mormon redemption than in performing a chronological two-step that would return him to the space of his alleged grandfather, Houdini, with whom he identified the notion of freedom through self-transformation. Seeking escape from his fate, he chose death in an act of ultimate self-will. Gilmore's metaphoric transportation back to the turn of the century is rendered in a dance sequence featuring the Texas two-step. The film ends in the Columbian Exposition hall, where Houdini is approached by Gilmore's future grandmother, Baby Fay La Foe, starting anew the circular narrative of Cremaster 2.
CREMASTER 3 (2002) is set in New York City and narrates the construction of the Chrysler Building. A character itself, the building is host to inner, antagonistic forces at play for access to the process of (spiritual) transcendence. These factions find form in the struggle between Hiram Abiff or the Architect (played by Richard Serra), and the Entered Apprentice (played by Barney), who are both working on the building. They are reenacting the Masonic myth of Hiram Abiff, purported architect of Solomon's Temple, who possessed knowledge of the mysteries of the universe. The murder and resurrection of Abiff are reenacted during Masonic initiation rites.
After a prologue steeped in Celtic mythology, the narrative begins under the foundation of the partially constructed Chrysler Building. A female corpse digging her way out of a grave is the undead Gary Gilmore, protagonist of Cremaster 2. Carried out of her tomb by five boys, she is transported to the Chrysler Building's lobby and deposited in the back seat of a Chrysler Imperial New Yorker. During this scene, the camera cross-cuts to the Apprentice troweling cement over carved fuel-tank caps of five 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperials, each bearing the insignia of a different Cremaster episode. Packed with cement, these caps will serve as battering rams in a demolition derby about to begin. The Apprentice then scales one of the building's elevator shafts until reaching a car. Using this cabin as a mold, he pours cement to cast the perfect ashlar, a symmetrically hewn stone that symbolizes moral rectitude in Masonic ritual. By circumventing the carving process to create the perfect ashlar, the Apprentice has cheated in his rites of passage and has sabotaged the construction of the building.
The ensuing scene in the Chrysler Building's Cloud Club bar is a slapstick routine between bartender and Apprentice. Almost everything goes wrong, and these humorous mishaps result in the bartender playing his environment like a bagpipe. The accidents are caused by a woman (played by Aimee Mullins) in an adjoining room stuffing potatoes under the foundation of the bar until it is no longer level�a condition that echoes the corrupted state of the tower. The action is interrupted by a scene shift to a racetrack, where the Apprentice is accosted by hit men who break all his teeth in retribution for his deception. Back in the Cloud Club, he is escorted to a dental office and stripped of his clothes. An apron of flesh obtrudes from his navel, referencing the lambskin aprons worn by Masonic candidates as a symbol for the state of innocence before the Fall. In the dental suite the Apprentice is simultaneously punished and redeemed for his hubris by the Architect�whose own hubris also knows no bounds. Returning to his office, and anxious about the tower's slow progress, the Architect constructs two pillars that allude to the columns, Jachin and Boaz, designed by Abiff for Solomon's Temple. Meanwhile, the Apprentice escapes from the dental lab and climbs to the top of the tower. The Architect uses his columns as a ladder and climbs through an oculus in the ceiling. The next scene describes an apotheosis, the Architect becoming one with his design, as the tower itself is transformed into a maypole. At this point in the narrative the film pauses for a choric interlude. The rites of the Masonic fraternity, through allegorical representations of the five-part Cremaster cycle, are staged in the guise of a game in the Guggenheim Museum. Called "The Order," this competition features a fantastical incarnation of the Apprentice as its sole contestant, who must overcome obstacles on each level of the museum's spiraling rotunda. In one of the final scenes, which returns to the top of the Chrysler Building, the Architect is murdered by the Apprentice, who is then killed by the tower. Both men have been punished for their hubris and the building will remain unfinished. The film ends with a coda that links it to Cremaster 4. This is the legend of Fionn MacCumhail, which describes the formation of the Isle of Man, where the next installment of the Cremaster cycle takes place.
CREMASTER 4 (1994) adheres most closely to the project's biological model. This penultimate episode describes the system's onward rush toward descension despite its resistance to division. The logo for this chapter is the Manx triskelion�three identical armored legs revolving around a central axis. Set on the Isle of Man, the film absorbs the island's folklore as well as its more recent incarnation as host to the Tourist Trophy motorcycle race. Myth and machine combine to narrate a story of candidacy, which involves a trial of the will. The film comprises three main character zones. The Loughton Candidate (played by Barney) is a satyr with two sets of impacted sockets in his head that will eventually grow into the horns of the mature Loughton Ram. Its horns�two arcing upward, two down�form a diagram that proposes a condition of undifferentiation, with ascension and descension coexisting in equilibrium. The second and third character zones comprise a pair of motorcycle sidecar teams: the Ascending and Descending Hacks. A trio of attendant fairies mirrors the three narrative fields occupied by the Candidate and the two racing teams.
Cremaster 4 begins and ends in a building on the end of Queen's Pier. The Candidate is being prepared by the fairies for a journey. The motorcycle race starts, and each team of Hacks speeds off in opposite directions. The camera cuts back and forth between the race and the Candidate, who is tap-dancing his way through a slowly eroding floor. As the bikes vie for the title, gelatinous gonadal forms�undifferentiated internal sex organs�emerge from slots in the riders' uniforms in a migratory quest for directionality; the organs of the Ascending Hack move upward, while those of the Descending Hack ooze downward.
Back at the pier, the Candidate plunges through the floor into the sea and heads toward the island. At the moment of his fall�a transition from the utopian realm of pregenital oneness to that of bifurcation�the Ascending Hack collides with a stone embankment and the Descending Hack pulls off the course for a pit stop, where the fairies service its motorcycle. The Candidate reaches land and begins to burrow his way through a curving underground channel to reach the finish line, where the two Hacks will converge. This conduit leads him to a bluff, where the fairies are frolicking in a game that mirrors the conflict enacted by the principal characters, but with none of the tension. Still in his underground tunnel, the Candidate finally reaches his destination. The Loughton Ram stands at this junction�a symbol for the integration of opposites, the urge for unity that fuels this triple race. But before the Candidate and Hacks meet, the screen goes white. The Candidate's dream of transcending his biology to dwell in the space of pure symmetry is shattered.
In the final sequence at the pier the Hacks are parked on discrete ramps sloping down from the building's exterior. In the closing image the camera peers through an open, male crotch at the top of the frame toward the end of the pier. A tightly retracted scrotum is pierced with clasps connected to vinyl cords, which trail off to the awaiting Ascending and Descending Hacks, who will drive toward the island to pick up the slack. Full descension is guaranteed.
CREMASTER 5 (1997), in which total descension is finally attained, is envisioned as a tragic love story set in the romantic dreamscape of late-19th-century Budapest. The film is cast in the shape of a lyric opera. Biological metaphors shift form to inhabit emotional states�longing and despair�that become musical leitmotivs in the orchestral score. The opera's primary characters�the Queen of Chain (played by Ursula Andress) and her Diva, Magician, and Giant (all played by Barney)�enact collectively the final release promised by the project as a whole.
Cremaster 5 opens with an overture that introduces the opera's characters and lays out the map of Budapest that the narrative will traverse. The Magician crosses the L�nch�d Bridge on horseback. The Queen ascends the staircase of the Hungarian State Opera House with her two ushers. She settles onto her throne in the royal booth, and the ushers arrange a fleet of Jacobin pigeons around her. Pearls float on the surface of the pools in the Gell�rt Thermal Baths, partially concealing the F�d�r sprites, who inhabit their underwater realms. The curtain rises to an empty theater, the conductor readies his orchestra, and the opera begins.
As the Queen sings, her Diva appears on the stage, delineates the proscenium arch of the stage by laying ribbons across its floor, and then scales its contours. The Queen's mind wanders to memories of her beloved Magician preparing for a leap into the waters of the Danube from the L�nch�d Bridge. His ritualistic actions recall the famed bridge jumps of Harry Houdini, who was born in Budapest in 1874. The Magician is seeking transcendence, but the Queen misunderstands his actions and thinks he is trying to take his own life.
The Queen's ushers direct her attention to orifices in her throne through which she can see into the Gell�rt Baths below. Her birds plummet through the passages in the throne, trailing long satin ribbons into the bath. Her Giant enters the watery path between the two pools. The sprites cluster around him with a garland�woven from the ribbons attached to the birds�which they affix to the Giant's scrotum. In the warm waters of the thermal baths, the cremaster muscle releases and the testicles descend. This climactic moment�the emergence of a fully differentiated state�becomes visible when the pigeons soar upward then fly downward with ribbons trailing. The Queen then relives the Magician's leap into the river and swoons from the horror of her recollection. At this point the narrative mirrors the path of descension just revealed: having completed his climb, the Diva tumbles to the stage, and the Magician plunges to the bottom of the river. Two water sprites caress his fallen body and insert a black pearl into his mouth. The Queen performs her mournful aria, preparing to join her lover in death. A thin stream of liquid trickles from her mouth into the pools below. On its descent, the stream divides into two droplets that strike the water simultaneously. Two perfect circles resonate outward, filling the surface of the bath with their waves, suggesting, in turn, eternal renewal or the echoes of a system expiring. The Cremaster cycle defers any definitive conclusion.