Artworks
Cremaster 4: Faerie Field
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jtucker's picture

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It's time to get freaky!

These photos are a part of the Barney’s infamous Cremaster Cycle body of work. This body consists of sculptures, photos, drawings, artist books and, most notably, five full-length feature films. While all the different media are essential to the work as a whole, it is the films that really caught the attention of the art world, and for good reason. They are some of the weirdest films…EVER.

There is so much going on with this work it is hard to know where to begin. Lets start with the title. It is named after the cremaster muscle. The primary function of this muscle is to raise and lower a man’s testicles according to the temperature. Yes, arguably the most iconic piece of video art ever made is named after a muscle found in a man’s ball sack. We are off to a good start!

The title is not the only anatomical reference in this work. This work is filled with bodily suggestions, specifically ones relating to our reproductive organs, our embryonic processes, and the differences and similarities between the male and female body. The films explore the duality of bodies, with Cremaster 1 representing the most undifferentiated state and Cremaster 5 representing the most differentiated state of the human genders. Barney explores this idea by looking at a developing fetus before it has taken on a gender and following it through eight years of the developmental cycle, or so some say. This may sound a little dry to you, but this is not your average sex ed video you'd show to a middle school classroom. Quite frankly, it’s pretty horrifying and confusing. In these films you will see everything from a satyr wiggling through a wax butthole to birds using ribbons to give a penis an erection. It is the kind of stuff no person needs to see, but once you start, you really can’t look away. Mesmerizing to say the least, but in a weird carnal sci-fi way.

Also, don’t be fooled by the title. Barney has a whole Star Wars thing going on, for the number on the film does not correspond the order in which it was released. Cremaster 4 is actually the first in the series of films.  

So do you want to see for yourself? Well, suffice to say, it's not on Netflix. This is video art, which means to give it monetary value, only a handful of copies exist. Twenty to be exact, and they all sold of the whooping price of $100,000 a piece! So if you want to check this work our for yourself, you are either going to need to find a collector with a penchant for offbeat art, or you will have to visit our favorite place...a museum!

It is pretty hard to watch these films and know exactly what was going through Barney’s head when he made it or what the true message is. I think we can assume it speaks to issues with sexuality and transgender individuals. Perhaps we the help of Barney we can some day live in a world with gender-neutral bathrooms! Hip hip hooray!