For his newest film, Matthew Barney didn’t cast names as big as Maggie Gyllenhaal or Paul Giamatti, who both starred in his previous film River of Fundament, but he did opt for an attention-grabbing lead: Anette Wachter, three-time NRA National long-range champion and a gun blogger.
Titled Redoubt, the film is a loose adaptation of the myth of Diana, the Greek goddess of the hunt, who is played by Wachter. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the young hunter Actaeon comes across the goddess bathing after a hunt. When Diana notices the uninvited guest she angrily turns him into a deer. His own dogs then kill him.
The film follows a series of wolf hunts that take place over seven days and seven nights in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. (Barney spent much of his youth living in Boise.) It debuts March 1 as part of an exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery—the first time Barney has shown at his alma mater since receiving his BA there in 1989—before traveling to UCCA Beijing and the Hayward Gallery in London.
“With this project, I was interested in making a portrait of the central Idaho region that would allow for a broad range of energies and expressions, both beautiful and problematic,” Barney said in an interview with the Yale Art Gallery’s magazine. “When I lived there in the 1970s and 1980s, that isolation felt more significant than it does now, and that was a challenge for a teenager interested in finding out what was happening on the other side of the mountain. But, even now, there are strong isolationist tendencies that carry on in that region.”
Redoubt is 134 minutes long—considerably shorter than the 330 minutes of River of Fundament and the 398 minutes of his previous epic, The Cremaster Cycle. Like the latter, Redoubt also features no dialogue. It does, however, incorporate a great deal of choreography, arranged by dancer Eleanor Bauer, who also performs in Redoubt.
The film also stars Sandra Lamouche of the Bigstone Cree Nation in the role of the Hoop Dancer, who performs her own tribal dance choreography. Barney himself plays a character called the Engraver, who surreptitiously stalks the hunters and documents their actions in a series of copper engravings.
Those engravings will be on view in the exhibition, alongside four monumental cast sculptures that the artist made by pouring molten copper and brass into the bodies of dead trees, which had been culled from the remains of a forest fire in the Sawtooth range.
“One extremist movement in parts of Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington, and western Montana and Wyoming calls for a separation from government and urban life and a return to the land and is known as the ‘American Redoubt,’” Barney told the Yale magazine. “A redoubt generally refers to a defensive military fortification, especially an isolated earthwork, or to a defense of a threatened social or psychological position. But for me, the term ‘redoubt’ resonates as a description of a more abstract form of isolation or withdrawal.”
The film will be screened at set times outside the gallery, with the public premiere taking place March 2 at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“Matthew Barney: Redoubt” will be on view from March 1 to June 16, 2019, at the Yale University Art Gallery. A catalogue on the project and the making of the film, published and distributed by Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition.
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