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A scene from Matthew Barney's new film, "Kuh." (HUGO GLENDINNING/Gladstone Gallery New York)

Detroit is really cooking lately, art-wise. Even Matthew Barney’s getting in on the action. Barney has been filming the second of a planned seven part film cycle in Detroit, and Mark Stryker of the Free Press has written an eyewitness blow-by-blow of the six hour filmed performance that took place there last Saturday. The opera is a loose adaption of Norman Mailer’s book “Ancient Evenings” (read more about the opera on the Barbara Gladstone Gallery website). Writes Stryker: “In Barney’s retelling, however, the main character becomes the 1967 Chrysler, which is reincarnated as a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and a 2001 Crown Victoria. The first film was shot in Los Angeles. Detroit, the birthplace of the Crown Imperial, is the setting for Act 2, titled Kuh. Barney has been shooting a lot of material, including a scene of the Trans Am flying to its death off the Belle Isle bridge.”

The performance began at the Detroit Institute of Arts with a screening of the film’s 30 minute prologue, continued on to a local glue factory where an aria was sung, and ended on a 185 foot barge travelling the Rouge and Detroit rivers. Read Stryker’s account of the performance/film shoot in full here.

Matthew Barney. Ancient Evenings: Khaibit Libretto, 2009 Graphite on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base, in nylon and acrylic vitrine; 15 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 14 3/4 inches (39.4 x 34.9 x 37.5 cm)

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.