As one of my all-time favourite artists I would definitely have to rank Matthew Barney. I was fortunate to see his Cremaster Cycle when it was touring the world in 2002, after he had finished the final part “Cremaster 3”. The exhibition actually opened in my German home town of Cologne, at the Museum Ludwig, which is where I saw it the summer before I started art college. I made my now-husband sit through most of all the films (we left half-way through Part 1, which was screened last, after nearly 6 1/2 hours in the cinema), and the experience has stayed with me since then. For me, being able to remember something you saw nearly 13 years ago in vivid detail is a sign of great art. My favourite part by far was Part 3, which was eventually partially released on DVD (unfortunately only 30 minutes though, which a) makes very little sense unless you have seen the rest of the cycle and b) doesn’t nearly scratch the surface of its visually complex narrative). I would love to see the whole cycle again in its entirety, but screenings are so rare and I am so bad at finding out about things early that there is practically no chance of that happening other than by some crazy stroke of luck. In the Cremaster Cycle, Barney seems to have achieved what many artists strive for – to realise a vision so compelling, visceral, complete and utterly original that it could not be anyone else’s.
Of course, I was not surprised when it later emerged that Barney was in a relationship with Icelandic performance artist extraordinaire Björk. After seeing the Cremaster Cycle, it just made complete sense to me that two people with such unique creative vision would share a deep connection. Björk herself is high on my list of “People I would like to make a massive semi-unwearable piece of jewellery for”, and I admire her ability to completely re-invent herself in always unexpected ways for each of her releases. She really pushes the boundaries of what constitutes music, and the themes of her 2011 album Biophilia album particularly strike a chord with me. The MOMA New York is staging a massive retrospective of her work right now, which I am sure despite the mixed reviews is worth seeing at any rate, even if only for the amazing costumes. I love the outfit Björk is wearing for her latest album Vulnicura, as usual pushing the boundaries of wearability and blurring body adornment and fashion:
Vulnicura of course is a break-up album, conceived as a response to her recent split from Barney. Maybe that in itself was also an inevitability in the grand scheme of things.
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