an egyptian requiem


Matthew Barney’s newest show “DJED” is the first to reveal the sculptural results of his six hours performance “Khu”, made on Detroit’s riverbanks. At the end of the performance, melted iron streamed down the silos of abandoned plants, to cast the massive sculpture that is displayed in the center of the gallery. The car’s undercarriage was changed to resemble a djed, a hieroglyph that represents god Osiris power. The shock between an amorphous amalgam and the casted car skeleton could also be interpreted as the representation of the underworld itself and the god that guards the entrance.


Part of “Ancient Evenings”, a new project based on Norman Mailer’s novel, the work addresses Egyptian mythology in the portrayal of the cycles of reincarnation. In Barney’s view, the stages that the soul progresses from death to rebirth were to be carried by a Chrysler Imperial, an iconic car from America’s golden era.



At the entrance of the gallery, is a sculpture called “The Canopic Chest”. In it’s top, a shiny perfectly shaped bronze crowbar, contrasting with lead colored motor chest, emerging from raw dark iron rocks and pieces of wood wreckage. Perhaps placed for the purpose of unveiling the content of the urns, it reveals what deserved to be taken from life and kept unchanged trough eternity.


Also presented are a series of drawings called “River Rouge”, where the body is represented with poring sexual fluids, surrounded by a phantasmagoric forest and encrusted with minerals, wood, blending human and nature’s elements alike, these works unveil more of the series mythology, and Norman Mailer’s head appear carved in a three.


Unfortunately what is missing from this exhibition is a film that would portrayal all stages that brought these massive sculptures to our presence at the gallery. One accustomed to Barney’s work, although impressed, would feel deterred from a deeper experience, with the absence of this documentation.