Matthew Barney has opened an exhibit of drawing and sculpture at the Gladstone Gallery in Brussels. The drawings are developmental plans for “Ren” and “Sekhem” the first two acts of his seven part opera. The work originates from “Ancient Evenings”, a novel written by Norman Mailer in 1983. The book is a semi-fictional account of Egypt during the time of the great pyramids.
Barney is well known for crushing Chryslers, black metal and the engulfing visuals that define his video work. In contrast, the drawings exhibit the output of a deliberate hand working with subtle precision. Some unusual materials were employed to compile these surfaces including petroleum jelly, metal leaf, lapis dust and a crude oil plastic.
The sculptures in the show allude to the stages the soul must graduate postmortem to achieve prominent position in the Egyptian afterlife. The work consists of seven copies of Mailer’s novel encased in wall-mounted vitrines. Each altered book is preserved on a block of carved salt.
“Ren”, the opening stage of the opera was filmed last year in Los Angeles. Acts two through four are slated for production this summer. The first part occurred as a public performance so keep your ears open and send me photos.
Ancient Evenings: Libretto
20 March – 9 May 2009