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Monday, February 10, 2014

River of Fundament—Spotting Symbols and Icons


1979 Pontiac Trans-Am. Gold, no less.
Matthew Barney's River of Fundament is an epic, nearly six-hour film created over the course of seven years, in three major locations and involving hundreds of cast and crew. It makes reference to Norman Mailer's novel Ancient Evenings, set in Egypt and involving the god Osiris plus countless other themes and facets.

Here are some notes on a few symbols, icons, and, oh, phases of reincarnation to look for as you're navigating your own path through River of Fundament at the Harvey Theater, starting on Feb 12.

American muscle cars — a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial is a stand-in for Osiris; also a 1979 Pontiac Trans-Am; connotes a masculine power parallel to auras exuded by Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway; chopped and melted down to be recast as sculpture

Metals and minerals — gold, silver, lapis, sulfur; richly symbolic, links between the ancient Egyptian and contemporary American worlds; alchemical transformation

Matthew Barney, DJED, 2009—11, courtesy Gladstone Gallery
Djed symbol — stability; the symbolic backbone of Osiris; the incarnation the smelted automobile/Osiris takes

River — passageway; connectivity; life source; mutability; inexorability

Foundry — transformation; alchemy; reincarnation; manufacture of immutable objects

The hood of the 1967 Chrysler Imperial. Ba bird or flaming chicken?


The seven stages of the soul’s departure from the body as it passes from death to rebirth:

Ren – Departure of one’s secret name
Sekhem – Departure of one’s power
Khu – One’s light
Ba – One’s sprit
Ka – One’s double
Khaibit – One’s shadow
Sekhu – One’s remains


Got any to add?

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