Matthew Barney (a.k.a. Björk’s Ex) Gets Fall Show at LA MOCA

Matthew+Barney
Matthew Barney. Photo: Courtesy Zimbio.

The New York Times recently revealed that Matthew Barney will have a show in September at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. The show will be of his film River of Fundament, and display sculptures, photographs, and other materials taken from the film (see Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament: An Egypto-Scatological Musical About Norman Mailer, Cars, and America). It sounds very similar to the format of his Cremaster Cycle show that stormed the Guggenheim back in 2003 (see Swept Away and The Unbearable Lightness of Barney), though will likely be on a smaller scale.

According to Deborah Solomon, who penned the Times story, Barney’s oft-touted status as “the most important American artist of his generation” has lately been overshadowed by his new fame as the ex-boyfriend of Björk, whose much panned show at MoMA opened on March 8 (see: Ladies and Gentleman, the Björk show at MoMA is Bad, Really BadSix Best Takedowns of MoMA’s Appalling Björk Show; and Tour Björk’s MoMA Retrospective Through Instagram).

In “Black Lake,” a commissioned music video projected onto two large screens in a custom-built theater in the MoMA atrium, the Icelandic icon “loudly bemoans the collapse of her long relationship” with Barney, according to Solomon. Solomon calls it “a breakup ballad in surround sound.” (Björk, by the way, has returned to gigging.)

The video’s barbed lyrics have many people wondering how and whether Barney plans to respond. Barney will certainly have a wide platform at MOCA—maybe he can slip in a surreptitious reference or two amidst the Fundamentals.

Björk, Biophilia (2011). Credit: By M/M (Paris) Photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. Photo: courtesy of Wellhart Ltd & One Little Indian.

Björk, Biophilia (2011).Credit: By M/M (Paris) photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin.
Photo: Courtesy of Wellhart Ltd & One Little Indian.

Solomon’s article also reveals that the show comes to MOCA at the direction of Philippe Vergne, the director who was put in place just over a year ago and whose leadership is being closely watched for signs that he can tidy up the wreckage left in the wake of Jeffrey Deitch’s stormy tenure and dramatic departure in the summer of 2013.

Under Deitch, the museum lost esteemed curator Paul Schimmel as well as key trustees. Several, though, including Catherine Opie and John Baldessari, have since returned. The controversy and disorganization resulted in a glaring gap between exhibitions.

Could this be the first sign of a turnaround?

Perhaps even more noteworthy (or just plain strange) is that the show is currently on view at the Museum of Old and New Art, in Tasmania, and originated at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (see Haus der Kunst Faces Funding Crisis). The Times quotes Vergne saying: “I thought it should be seen in America,” adding that it will not be shown elsewhere in the US.

The show will be Barney’s first in Los Angeles.


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