Matthew Barney: SECONDARY: commencement
6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Saturday, June 1 at 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
Ends Aug 17, 2024
Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler are pleased to announce SECONDARY, an exhibition in four parts by Matthew Barney. Unfolding sequentially across the galleries and staged in concert with an installation at the Fondation Cartier, each presentation traces the artist’s career-long interest in the relationship between the body, transmogrification, physical possibility, and the deep-rooted history of violence that serves as a cornerstone to the American psyche. In addition to a new series of sculptures and drawings, Barney will premier his film, SECONDARY, in London, Paris, and Los Angeles. Across the installations, Barney re-maps subject matter that has repeatedly circulated within his oeuvre, conflating notions of material potential and myth-making with the specter of entropic collapse. Each arm of the exhibition traces back to the artist’s 2023 film, SECONDARY, a five-channel work that draws its inspiration from the infamous 1978 Raiders vs. Patriots game in which defensive back Jack Tatum delivered an open field hit that left wide receiver Darryl Stingley permanently paralyzed. Recalling his own memories of the play, the impact, and the culture of spectacle that continues to inform the incident today, Barney addresses the consequences of a sport that has become synonymous with physical brutality. Moving from pregame to game, from play to impact, and finally arriving at the media’s relentless repetition of the collision itself, the exhibitions examine the connective tissue that joins our scopophilic desire to witness lethal force with the anxieties stirred by the vulnerabilities of our own bodies. Consistent with Barney’s practice, the sculptural works in the exhibition trespass from the screen to the gallery, blurring the distance between the artist’s constructed cinematic narratives and the corporeal. Comprised of a range of materials that exhibit individual intrinsic behaviors, the objects in SECONDARY probe issues of time and aging. Conjuring the limits of the body by using mediums that respectively indicate elasticity (synthetic polymers), strength (cast metals), and fragility (ceramic), Barney both memorializes and pathologizes the Tatum/Stingley event. Also included in each exhibition are a new series of large-scale drawings on aluminum panel, each of which expands upon the motif of the field emblem. Simultaneously diagrammatic and abstract, these drawings examine issues of repetition, memory, and the flux between the symbolic and the real. For his exhibition at Regen Projects, SECONDARY: commencement, Barney re-proposes the gallery as an arena. Installed with stadium lights and an Astroturf field, the exhibition space is presented as both an extension of SECONDARY’s mise en scène and a site of real-world action, a refracted double that conflates the privacy of the artist’s studio with the energy of a public venue. Presented alongside the new film is Raider Nation, a sculpture constructed to conceal the object it quotes. Extrapolating upon 1990’s unit BOLUS, Raider Nation suggests an American culture of violence that is as parthenogenetic as it is self-cannibalizing. Here the cooling element that originally kept unit BOLUS’ petroleum jelly hand weight suspended in a perpetual state of liminality is cast in ceramic and caged under a net of aluminum dumbbells. The resulting object becomes a stand-in for the frenetic energy that prefigures the game, the self-multiplying emotional contagion we experience when we anticipate action. Also included in the exhibition is Assassin, a ceramic sculpture that takes its title from Jack Tatum’s prophetic nickname and its form from the film itself. Featured in a scene where Tatum uses the force of his body to shape a slab of clay before tearing and abandoning it, the object becomes the stand-in for both Barney’s artistic practice and the event it references. Draped with Tatum’s jersey, Assassin is a monument to the nearly fatal play and the subject of Raider Nation’s gaze. Matthew Barney, Assassin (detail), 2024. © Matthew Barney. Photo: David Regen, Courtesy the Artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler