Drawing Restraint 9 , the new work of Matthew Barney. A full-length film 135minute long with soundtrack studied by Bjork. Two of the most interesting minds of the nowadays scenery have worked together on this project, a video plunged with Japanese culture.
Matthew Barney and Bjork are the two main characters of the movie, the two Occidental guests invited by the Japanese host to attend the tea ceremony, crucial moment of the movie. The story develops in the space of a day. The arrival of the guests by ship, their preparation and dressing in order to be allowed to assist to the ceremony, their meeting, love between them that transforms into mutual mutilation. The movie begins with a beautiful image of a woman packing small packets: full of poetry, with a soundtrack that emphasizes her movements, her slowness and discipline, the story goes on with the procession, composed of some dancers, that follows the tank lorry that will lead to the whaler, where the two characters will meet and the tea ceremony will take place.
On the whaler bridge the workers are building a huge “tank” shaped as an ellipse barred in its centre, which is the distinguishing symbol of Barney that can be found in almost all his works and that in this case will be filled with a gelatinous liquid similar to Vaseline (filling of the tank lorry). All the elements we could expect from the genius of Matthew Barney are therefore present.
Drawing Restraint 9 is the last work of the series Drawing Restraint, begun in the far away 1988. the first chapters were performances that ended with the creation of a sign, a drawing, a sketch. The drawing was realized through the efforts made by the artist, physical efforts. Barrney used instruments to practice gym sports, he jumped off the springboard, he climbed, he did actions that allowed him to gain strength and energy and the drawings that he created were the representation of that same strength stocked and kept. This choice, this way of expressing himself, comes from his education as an athlete and from his obsession for achieving a perfect body, hypertrophic.
Drawing Restraint 7 (1993) instead is a video, realized inside a limousine. The passengers are mythological creatures, half human and half animals, a sort of centaurs. Also in this case Barney is one of the actors, the driver of the limousine. These creatures, inside the car, fight between them, and with their horns and protrusions leave signs on the roof of the limousine. Drawing Restraint 7 is one of the works preceding the first Cremaster Cycle, the work that has consecrated this visionary artist to an international level, realized by Barney, number 4 (1994).
The first impression obtained from this number 9 is not of the best ones. Ordered by the Japanese government, it looks like an exercise of style, compared to the standards that Barney had given us till now. We also expected much more intensity from his first work with Bjork; indeed the music that the cute Finnish musician wrote for this movie do not step far from his last albums.
From a purely aesthetical point of view, of the image, obviously really little can be criticized; the visionariety of this artist is unique and out of discussion. The elements he shows us are always the same, one could say. Strange dresses, that tire the body, worn with difficulties by the two guests, objects with organic, biologic shape, that seem soft, enigmatic characters. But everything stops here, no other reading level can be seen, in few words a style exercise.
After a huge work, complex and fascinating just like Cremaster Cycle, we expected something at least at the same level. There is very little of the old Drawing Restraint in this new work, and it doesn’t seem an evolution of the previous chapters or of Barney’s work in the complex. Under the surface really detailed of this movie, the contents don’t seem to be as much cured. The symbols, the metaphors look as if they were empty of meaning. You exit the hall feeling really puzzled, and curious at this point of the next episode.