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Matthew Barney «Cremaster 2»
Matthew Barney, «Cremaster 2», 1999
Photography | Photograph: Peter Strietmann | © Matthew Barney


Categories: Film

Keywords: Space | Surveillance

United States

 Matthew Barney
«Cremaster 2»

«CREMASTER 2» (1999) is offered as an effusive Western which brings conflict into the system. On the biological level, this part of the phase corresponds with the fetal development in which the differentiating between genders begins. In Matthew Barney’s abstraction, the system resists this dividing process and tries to maintain the equilibrium devised in «Cremaster 1.» «In Cremaster 2,» this regressive impulse is given form through a spiraling storytelling manner: the action oscillates between 1997, the year Gary Gilmore was executed, and 1893, the year Harry Houdini, perhaps Gilmore’s grandfather, made his appearance at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The film handles three central themes related one to the other—the landscape as witness, Gilmore’s story (played by Barney), and the life of bees: all metaphors for the possibility of moving backwards in order to escape his own fate. Gilmore’s blood-relationship to Houdini (played by Norman Mailer) and his relationship to the bees are shown at the beginning of the film in the spiritual session/conception scene: Houdini’s ghost is summoned, and Gilmore’s father dies after making his wife pregnant.
(Source: Matthew Barney, The Cremaster Cycle, Museum Ludwig Cologne, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2002,)