Norman Mailer’s 1983 novel Ancient Evenings was eagerly anticipated, having taken the American author more than ten years to complete. Set in Ancient Egypt, the novel explores the themes of life, death and rebirth, and though it received mixed reviews at the time of publication, the book still maintains the power to provoke. Artist Matthew Barney certainly thought so, as he has taken this text as inspiration for his River of Fundament project, substituting recycling for reincarnation and the car for the protagonist’s spirit.
As Mailer did, Barney has taken his time on this ambitious work. River of Fundament is apparently “the culmination of seven years of intense meditation on death, rebirth, transformation and transcendence”, which hopefully wasn’t as heavy for the San Franciscan artist as it sounds. Little wonder though that the project was so long, as it includes an epic five hour film, large-scale sculptures, photography, drawings and story boards, and is a collaboration with Berlin-based American composer Jonathan Bepler. The Munich museum Haus Der Kunst is hosting the premier exhibition of the entire awe-inspiring work; opening night for the film is 16 March, and the exhibition runs until 17 August.