MoMA PS1, Long Island City

MoMA PS1 | 22-25 Jackson Ave. at 46 Ave., Queens
NY 11101 Long Island City

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press release

(Long Island City, New York, January 2004) - P.S.1 presents a portrait installation by New York artist Barry X Ball. This new sculptural work, titled (Matthew Barney), which presents the head of the artist carved in Mexican onyx, combines the Baroque and digital media in a portrait worthy of its subject. Part of a series Ball initiated six years ago, this portrait is only the second completed work to be exhibited. Produced over a period of three years, the Matthew Barney sculpture began with the simple plaster cast of the artist’s head and neck. From this a positive cast was created, digitized with a 3-D laser scanner, and then the digital file was converted to machine language in order for the onyx to be milled on a computer-controlled stone-carving lathe. The sculpture was brought to completion with meticulous carving and polishing by hand.

The installation of the portrait/sculpture is central to its meaning, and relates directly to its subject. The head, impaled on a 69-inch long stainless steel spike plated in 24K gold, is suspended from the ceiling by an intricate web of cables. Recalling Matthew Barney’s early performative work, and the self-transformations in his Cremaster film cycle, Ball’s portrait also references art history. As Mario Diacono wrote, there is a parallel to "the Nun’s richly draped and levitating body in Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome." With elements of the grotesque and the sublime, Ball’s portrait of Matthew Barney, as it hovers in the space of the room, is suspended between heaven and earth.

Ball has had solo exhibitions at Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston (1997 and 2003); Luhring Augustine, New York (1993, 1995, 1997); Magasin, Stockholm, Sweden (1993); Galerie Isy Brachot, Brussels, Belgium (1991); Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain, Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Brittany, France (1990); and Craig Cornelius Gallery, New York (1988 and 1986). He has also been included in group exhibitions at, among others, The Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami (2003); Le Quartier, center d'art contemporain Brittany, France (2001); Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (1996); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (1995); Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano, Switzerland (1992); and Musée St. Pierre, Art Contemporain, Lyon, France (1988). Pressetext

Barry X Ball: Matthew Barney
Kurator: Bob Nickas