Matthew Barney, Investment, 2016
Matthew Barney’s edition for the Whitechapel Gallery relates to his recent film River of Fundament (2014). The film transports the myth-laden narrative of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings (1983) – itself based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead – into a contemporary American setting. The project also encompasses numerous art works, including sculpture, works on paper and performance. In the film, the recurring motif of a graduated ascent to power is articulated in the material language of the metals and minerals that take form in sculpture. Base elements — zinc, sulfur, iron, copper — give way to yellow metal alloys — bronze and brass — that emulate, but fail to reproduce, the quality of gold.
Printed with graphite ink, Barney’s edition for the Whitechapel Gallery depicts an American Bison, the last of the three animal protagonists in River of Fundament. The work’s title, Investment, describes one of the oldest known metal-forming techniques and the stage in the sculptural casting process where the sculptural pattern is submerged into the mold material, before this pattern is displaced by the casting medium. This print, like Barney’s sculptures from the film, translates motifs from River of Fundament into autonomous works of art, bearing witness to these set-piece performances while recasting their themes of decay, regeneration and alchemical metamorphosis.
Medium: Hard-ground etching on copper plate, printed with graphite ink onto Japanese paper.
Paper dimensions: 34 x 41 cm [13.4 x 16.1 inches].
Image dimensions: 16.5 x 24 cm [6.5 x 9.45 inches].
Edition of 20 prints,
Signed and numbered recto.
Produced by Matthew Barney and Two Palms Press.
Matthew Barney has designed a bespoke frame for this work.
This work has been generously donated to the Whitechapel Gallery by the artist and Two Palms Press.
Members Price: £6,300
This limited edition Matthew Barney etching is available at Whitechapel Gallery