Every once and a while you are reminded that you are proud of your friends for being as smart as they are. This happened to me today when Brandon Stosuy forwarded me an excerpt from his exceptionally good interview with Matthew Barney published by McSweeney’s. You really get a sense about how the artist thinks about his work, and aesthetics in general. Given his importance and influence as an artist, this discussion has the potential to become one of the few key art historical documents of the 21st century.
An excerpt from the excerpt:
THE BELIEVER: You often reference punk and metal in your work—for instance, Murphy’s Law and Agnostic Front in Cremaster 3 or Steve Tucker and Dave Lombardo in Cremaster 2. I love watching the kids getting ready to slam-dance in Cremaster 3—that overlapping with the Playboy Rockettes. There are a number of younger artists working with punk and metal (and, well, goth) in a manner that resonates with your practice. I’m thinking especially of Banks Violette, who has been casting in salt, come to think of it, and also Matthew Greene and Sue de Beer. The aesthetic’s different in most cases, but do you see them, somehow, as descendents?
MATTHEW BARNEY: I’m not sure. The feeling I got from the last Whitney Biennial was that there were a number of pieces that had to do with the artist as outsider, and these subcultures like metal, or a general abject sensibility, were being used to describe an outsider culture as a way of defining the role of the artist. I guess that’s not really my interest in metal, or the extreme music scene—my interest has more to do with it as an abstraction of conflict. There’s a way that conflict becomes abstracted into the architecture that interests me. Something to do with the relationship between the amplified music on stage, the active mosh pit, and the passive audience beyond the pit, and maybe even more to do with the trench between the stage and the pit, where the security guards are stationed to remove people from the crowd. That same trench is used to protect the performers in other concert situations. With extreme music shows, it functions differently, more like an overflow valve in a bathtub.