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    Photograph by Hugo Glendinning.

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Great Beyond

Filmmaker and artist Matthew Barney closes the circle with his new movie River of Fundament

As esoteric and mystical as the artist Matthew Barney’s famed Cremaster Cycle films could be, they were essentially about the path to birth. Barney’s new movie, River of Fundament, premiering February 12 (through February 16) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is about the journey after death. Barney used Ancient Evenings, a 1983 novel about Egyptian mythology by Norman Mailer (who played Houdini in the Cremaster series), as
the jumping-off point for a seven-part performance work that was staged—with the help of the artist’s longtime composer, Jonathan Bepler—over six years in New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit. By employing footage of these live spectacles intercut with scenes shot with actors like Paul Giamatti, Elaine Stritch, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Barney has created a cinematic opera about the journey from death to rebirth, thus completing 
an artistic circle of life.