Vintage Chryslers collide over the lobby of the Chrysler Building in a balletic demolition derby, a woman cuts up potatoes wearing shoes with blades attached to the soles, a man on an operating table has a tiny wheel instead of a penis, a bevy of beauties enjoy a bubble bath at the Guggenheim Museum—all this and more is on display in Matthew Barney's 2002 picture show about power, impotence, and violence in American culture. It completed a series of five "Cremaster" films and videos that made Barney an art world darling. While elegant, it's also bloated and pompous: the absence of any cinematic "basics"—compositions that interact on plastic and rhythmic levels—may explain why few people acquainted with the history of avant-garde film consider Barney a major figure.
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This week the Music Box presents all five installments of Matthew Barney's "Cremaster" cycle of avant-garde features, plus the Chicago premiere of his latest, De Lama Lamina.