River of Fundament
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A film by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler screened at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Presented by the Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Art Museum in partnership with the 2015 Biennial of the Americas
Tickets ($20 general / $15 CSM and DAM members / $10 students) are subject to an advance service fee when purchased online. The discount code for CSM Members is CSMRIVER. Tickets purchased with cash at the Denver Coliseum box office (Saturdays, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.) are not subject to service fees. To purchase museum member / student tickets at the Coliseum, a valid membership card or student ID is required.
River of Fundament is an epic presented in the medium of film that combines narrative cinema with elements of sculpture, opera, and live performance. It is the culmination of seven years of collaboration between artist Matthew Barney and alternative composer Jonathan Bepler loosely based on Norman Mailer’s 1983 novel Ancient Evenings. Set in pre-Christian Egypt, Mailer’s novel elaborately chronicles the seven stages, in Egyptian mythology, of the soul’s departure from the body as it passes from death to rebirth.
Barney and Bepler reinterpret Mailer’s ancient mythologies to create a sprawling allegory of death and new life within the contemporary American landscape. Ceremonial acts and industrial processes see the automobile reimagined as the body of the film’s protagonist. In the tradition of opera, musical and vocal performances carry much of the film’s multilayered narrative. The film features scenes shot before live audiences at site-specific performances in Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York.
River of Fundament contains scenes of a strong sexual nature and may not be suitable for patrons under 18 years of age.
“At once dark and comic, an intrepid exploration of mammalian bodies in various stages of life, death…and birth that is both fascinating and uncomfortably close to home.” –Departures magazine
“With Matthew you don’t ask why—it’s why not.” –cast member Aimee Mullins, in T: the New York Times Style Magazine
Written and directed by Matthew Barney
Music composed and directed by Jonathan Bepler
Produced by Matthew Barney and Laurenz Foundation
River of Fundament is presented worldwide on behalf of the artists by Manchester International Festival.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Matthew Barney was born in 1967 in San Francisco and lives and works in New York. He has been included in group exhibitions such as Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany; the 1993 and 1995 Whitney Biennials; and the 1993 and 2003 Venice Biennale. A one-person exhibition, The Cremaster Cycle, organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, traveled to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. A retrospective of the Drawing Restraint series, organized by the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, traveled to Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Serpentine Gallery, London; and Kunsthalle Vienna. Barney has also received numerous awards including the Aperto prize at the 1993 Venice Biennale and the Hugo Boss award in 1996. Most recently, Barney was the recipient of the 2007 Kaiser Ring Award in Goslar, Germany, and the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival.
Jonathan Bepler was born in Philadelphia 1959, and lives and works in Berlin. He has often collaborated with choreographers including John Jasperse (California), Sasha Waltz (S, Gezeiten), and Jennifer Lacey (This is an Epic, Mhmmm). A multi-instrumentalist, Bepler has led ensembles of both improvised and precomposed music and has appeared often in New York and in Europe. His concert music includes a 2006 commission for the Ensemble Modern (45 musicians and singers), and a work for the Glenn Branca Ensemble (12 electric guitars and percussion). His multichannel sound installation for Broken Ensemble was shown at Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. The score for The Rape of the Sabine Women, created in Greece with Eve Sussman, includes 600 voices in the Herodeon theater at the Acropolis; a cliffside Bouzouki ensemble; and a piece for butchers, knives, and meat.
Visual artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler have worked together since 1995’s Cremaster 1. Bepler continued to score Barney’s films Cremaster 2, 3, and 5. Barney’s Cremaster Cycle (1994–2002), consisting of the films and related sculptures; photographs; and drawings, was exhibited to critical acclaim at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Cremaster films have achieved worldwide distribution in the worlds of art, film, and music. With a strong belief in collaboration, Barney and Bepler have worked with a broad range of talents in the past including Norman Mailer; actress Ursula Andress; performance artist Marti Domination; singer-songwriter Patty Griffin; thrash-metal drummer Dave Lombardo; the Budapest Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra; hardcore bands Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law; and the Radio City Rockettes.