matthew barney: prayer sheet with the wound and the nail
matthew barney: prayer sheet with the wound and the nail matthew barney: prayer sheet with the wound and the nail
mar 25, 2010

matthew barney: prayer sheet with the wound and the nail

matthew barney, drawing restraint 15, 2007documentary photograph © matthew barney image courtesy of neville wakefield

as part of the ‘matthew barney: prayer sheet with the wound and the nail’ exhibition happening from 12 june to 3 october 2010 in switzerland, schaulager is presenting ‘drawing restraint’ series by matthew barney.

‘drawing restraint’ is a series of performances, numbering sixteen thus far, in which matthew barney leaves traces in an environment of self-induced physical and psychological restraints. works emerging from these performances, such as sculptures, vitrines, drawings and videos, are juxtaposed in the schaulager exhibition with works of art from the northern renaissance.

‘drawing restraint 15’, matthew barney, 2007 documentary photograph © matthew barney image courtesy of neville wakefield


‘mendicant guided by the devil’, urs graf (circa 1485 – 1527/1528), 1512 pen and dark brown ink, 8.3 x 6.1 inches öffentliche kunstsammlung basel, kupferstichkabinett, amerbach-kabinett image courtesy of öffentliche kunstsammlung basel, martin p. bühler

‘drawing restraint 2’, matthew barney, 1988 documentary photograph © matthew barney photo: michael rees

the laurenz foundation, the organization that operates schlager will acquire in partnership with the museum of modern art (MoMA) in new york the archive of matthew barney performance series. thanks to the joint acquisition by these two institutions, the the performance work will be presented to the public as a whole for the first time. the basic idea of ‘drawing restraint’ is that form can only take shape when it struggles against resistance. the series, which started in his early student life at yale was initiated by using apparatuses that hindered his process of drawing. this was followed by his performances which used environments with ramps, sloping surfaces, elastic belts and obstacles that exclusively served to restrict the artist’s skill. as the series developed, the setting of his performances became increasingly sophisticated and the narrative more allegorical.

objects derived from the performances capture certain aspects of his action in the form of
 drawings, sculptures, vitrines and photographs. these objects are never random
 but always carefully selected and arranged. each action is also documented on video.
’drawing restraint 9′ is conceived as a full-length feature film. for the first time matthew
 barney acts with his partner, björk, who also contributed the soundtrack. the two of them
 play lovers on a mysterious trip aboard a japanese whaling ship. this work is about 
metamorphoses, meditation, the act of creation, death and resurrection.

the ‘drawing restraint’ series now in its 16th part, is a point of departure for a significantly broader-based exhibition at schaulager, with works from the emanuel hoffmann foundation and other additional loans.

the choice to juxtapose the work of matthew barney with the 15th and 16 century prints by  martin schongauer, albrecht dürer and urs graf, is not to draw parallels between secular and religious visual traditions. instead, the arrangement is an attempt to bring out latent meaning in matthew barney’s work. these include the expenditure of energy, the overcoming of resistance and the theme of rising and falling; a recurring topic in christian iconography.

the exhibition at schaulager will be arranged on two floors. the entire ‘drawing restraint’ archive is shown on the ground floor, with counterpoint provided by woodcuts, engravings and drawings from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. on the lower level, three monumental sculptures belonging to ‘drawing restraint 9’ – torii, cetacea, occidental restraint – are presented along with a new work.

schaulager has appointed neville wakefield as guest curator for the exhibition. the new york based author and curator has a profound knowledge of matthew barney’s work and will be organizing the exhibition project in close collaboration with the artist and the schaulager team. schaulager is the sole venue for this exhibition.

  • sick, I do not like it at all, FREAK

    ziby says:
  • I like the fish pictures, they are thought provoking.Ive not spent enought time yet thinking about what thoughts they are, but today I probably will.but why does barney feel the need to justify these with an (albeit very interesting) etching from the 14th century?and historical works of his own?is it because he wants to hint that there is a specific interpretation to the fish pictures that we cannot ‘get’?or, is it because he fears that his new stuff isnt good enough on its own?I personally found them interesting enough in themselves, and think he should have more confidence in his current direction!

    justsaying says:
  • @justsaying
    The addition of the etching is sufficiently explained in the article IMO. And this was probably not a decision of the artist himself, but of him and the guest curator.

    Manolo says:
  • the fish pictures are funny and tragic at the same time. But the pretentious waffle that follows them is neither

    ... says:
  • I believe Mr. Barney’s time would be better spent learning how to draw, an ancient and applicable practice, instead of over intellectualizing process, the latter being a modern and pretentious experience. Why enforce varying degrees of restraint in relation to something you obviously cannot do, much less illustrate your conspicuous inability through egoistic exhibitionism and correlate it to those who not only possessed this skill hundreds of years prior to your existence, but were superior in their ability to concept, construct and execute, and genuine (as opposed to self-imposed) in whatever restraint may be inferred from their work?

    Colonel Curt says:
  • smug and superior comment about Kurt’s naive primitivism

    Conrad says:
  • @Conrad

    A smug and superior comment about smugness and superiority may come off as hypocritical to some.

    But I suppose I am old fashioned in the sense that I still expect skill and artistry from purportedly skilled artists.

    I apologize for conveying my naive standards in an articulate way and for offending your sense of the contemporary. You must be a very learned and talented artist.

    Colonel Curt says:
  • Intellectual, ego driven claptrap. Try this for a ‘struggle against resistance’. Like the fish, tie yourself up by the legs, hang yourself from the ceiling, open a major artery and get some of your over educated art theorist friends to draw you. How’s that for creativity and original thought?

    Ian / Richmond, Melbourne Aust. says:
  • Kurt, I was actually referring to myself
    (playing dennis hopper in apocalypse now)
    but seeing as you thought it was about you
    maybe we just made art?!
    scary isnt it..

    um, Ian / Richmond I think thats the idea – do you like it better now you ‘get it’?

    smug_hypocrite says:
  • sincere comment earnestly explaining irony to the uninitiated, thus voiding any potential claim to such

    Hopper says:
  • Oh, believe me, I ‘get it’. My comments stand.

    Ian / Richmond, Melbourne Aust. says:
  • your intellectual posturing isnt getting one up on me, mr barney, no siree
    and since you asked, I never killed an animal or took pleasure in aggression
    you are a FREAK, and do not represent my version of humanity at all
    Im a good, upright citizen, so dont try to bamboozle me with your rhetoric, you poisonous snake

    full name to show sincerity and uprightness says:
  • Love Barney. Great imagery. Always thoughtful. This one feels like it needs more fish.

    melikey says:
  • Barney can draw, if you know anything about his work you’d know that.

    With regards to the exhibition, I think it’s just something to do with his goth / heavy metal tastes that he likes to mess around with drawing with blood and strap himself up while he ‘performs’.

    The museum thought ‘lets add some context’ by showing these with some etchings that feature religious imagery of a dark nature… Oooh! I like that! That’s SOo, like mysterious and cool!

    It works because like all successful art these days it baffles us with taboo iconography and those smug enough to think they know what it’s all about get to chortle at those that don’t know or are honest enough to say ‘who gives a toss!’

    Landpike among lizards says:
  • Landpike, like your comment, but are you with us smuggies, or against us?
    ..or a slightly self deluded inbetween?

    like US says:
  • The name should tell you everything you need to know in terms of where I stand.

    Landpike says:
  • I think Im confused by your smug and superior comment
    youre in!

    like U.S. says:
  • One of us! One of us! Let’s all restrain our comments and feature them next to older, better comments of a competely different sort! Pompous art frenzy! We’re all better then everyone!

    Lizard King says:
  • Landpike: You mean he can draw like “he has two hands and can hold a pencil” right?

    jk says:
  • frightfully unironic comment in relation to Lizard King
    u crack me up 🙂

    ... says:
  • Barney’s work isn the past has been aethetically edgey and thought provoking, but this obssession with killing things from the sea is really starting to urk me. I really believe Bjorks/Barney’s attempt at drawing inspiration from traditional whaling whilst filming on an industrial whaling factory ship is an anthropocentric self-indulgent non-essential.

    Look Matthew, if you really want to stay on the path of artistic enlightment steer clear of the poor Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) and whatever else that lives in the ocean that you have your eyes on, and consider realms beyond human ignorance and tradition.

    kg says:

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