by MARTY DEMAREST & r & & r & Matthew Barney: No Restraint & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & rtist Matthew Barney allowed a documentary crew to film him while he filmed his latest piece of performance art. Barney is either best known as the creator of the Cremaster cycle of films, sculptures and installations, or he's best known for being Bjork's hunkish husband. This makes No Restraint both a celebrity-worshipping documentary and a document of insight into an important artist.
In No Restraint, Matthew Barney is shown making his own film, Drawing Restraint 9, which is mostly set on a Japanese whaling ship. Scenes in Barney's film include a ritualistic sendoff of the ship, the welcoming aboard of two guests (Barney and Bjork), the moving-about of enormous whale-like objects made from Vaseline, and an underwater sequence in which Bjork and Barney fillet each others' legs.
Perhaps most potently, No Restraint documents Barney's absolute conviction in this vision. Barney is embarrassingly talkative in the documentary, often trailing his visionary conversations off into rambling tangents. Then he shrugs, smiles, and gets back to work.
No Restraint freely uses scenes from Drawing Restraint 9, allowing insight into the performance behind the performance. The whalers on the ship, who calmly drag Barney's petroleum-jelly creations around, are entirely confused by the ordeal while it's happening. The ship's captain is angry, while the whaling company executives are thrilled. And at the premiere of Drawing Restraint 9, everyone loves it, including the still-confused whalers.
Aside from happy whalers, No Restraint also reveals the increasing gulf of sycophancy that surrounds Barney and his work. When Nancy Spector, curator from the Guggenheim, started talking about -"a vocabulary that I had not seen before," like "narrative," I wanted to turn her bug eyes toward the 21st century. Likewise, architect Jacques Herzog practically pants his praises for the ways that Barney "questions the body" while failing to question the ways that Barney's gender-play -- wearing dresses while playing sports -- is so clich & eacute;d as to be uncreative. And nobody mentions that despite more than a decade of making films, Barney's technical skill with cinema is fumblingly inconsistent. Poor Matthew Barney. The world is either uncomprehending of his vision, or it buys everything he does without restraint. (Not Rated)