Matthew Barney

Partition, 2002 - 2018

Installation
Cast polycaprolactone, high-density polyethylene with 5 C-prints in acrylic frames
741.0 × 246.0 × 746.0 Size (cm)
291.7 × 96.8 × 293.7 Size (in)
Basel 2018

Matthew Barney’s Partition reinterprets a major in-stallation relating to his film CREMASTER 3 (2002). A full-scale bar, originally sculpted from petroleum jelly, has been transformed into a monumental sculpture in cast plastic. CREMASTER 3, the fifth and final part of Barney’s CREMASTER Cycle, is set primarily in 1930s New York during the construction of the Chrysler Building. Many laborers who worked on the building were Irish immigrants and Freemasons, and the film’s iconography is informed by masonic rites and Irish folklore. Partition marries the form of a traditional Irish bar with that of a plumb level, one of the principal symbolic tools of freemasonry. The original sculpture, with its jelly surface modeled around a refrigerated armature, existed in a state of indefinite suspension, poised on the brink of collapse. Here, Barney allowed the latent disintegration to begin, before casting the bar in plastic. The sculpture lists to one side, a reference to the metaphorical implications of the plumb level for freemasons. Overlaying the dense symbolism of the film with equally complex material transformations, Partition evinces the breadth of Barney’s sculptural language.

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