2.3 / Mythic Proportions

October 14 2010


October 14, 2010.  Myths distill the messy, complicated interactions of daily life into iconic gestures, and the process of myth creation—with all due credit to Roland Barthes—is one of elevation and valuation. Four reviews in this issue explore and dissemble that process: Glen Helfand’s examination of Matthew Barney’s epic performance, KHU; John Zarobell’s reflection on Huckleberry Finn; and Jeanne Gerrity’s and Christina Wiles’ takes on Until Today. (In the case of Barney, constructing the myth and becoming one are interchangeable propositions.) What come to the fore are familiar tropes—arduous labor, individual struggle, oppression, recognition, and liberation—reconfigured into objects and gestures that overtly or obliquely resonate with our own experiences. Enjoy – PM.

Image: Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler. Belita Woods in KHU, October 2, 2010; performance still. Courtesy of the Gladstone Gallery, New York. Photo:  Hugo Glendinning.


KHU, Act 2 of Ancient Evenings, by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler

KHU, Act 2 of Ancient Evenings, by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler

By Glen Helfand

There is no way to avoid the fact that size matters for Matthew Barney’s work. With each new project, he bumps up the volume and epic nature of its scale—and we as an audience are left to wonder about the appropriateness of making such grand gestures in a contemporary context. This doesn’t seem a concern for the artist, who operates within geological time frames and dares to make sweeping multimedia works

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