MATTHEW BARNEY: NO RESTRAINTWhat are concept artist Matthew Barney and musician Björk going to make out of 45,000 pounds of petroleum jelly, a whaling boat and traditional Japanese rituals? This is the question that intrigues Alison Chernick in her latest film as she observes the two artists on a trip to Japan that resulted in the creation of an artwork telling an imaginary love story. Alison Chernick: After directing a documentary on artist Jeff Koons, I was intrigued with capturing the process of making work, from inception through execution. When Matthew Barney walked me through his storyboards for his next art film endeavour DRAWING RESTRAINT 9, which would take place on a Japanese whaling vessel off the coast of Nagasaki, I knew that this process would be as interesting as its result.
Barney and his work were not the easiest choice in subjects. My intention was to reveal the essence of his work while allowing the viewer to go with him on this journey to Japan. As Barneys work is layered and complex, the opposing forces in documentary filmmaking and art exposés came to a head: How do I make a verité film but also give a context to his work? Capturing the reality of Barneys process, which is ingrained in fantasy, then became the biggest creative challenge. In addition, I needed to adapt to the formality of Japan and work within their cultural ways. With the bridging of two cultures through art, many stories unfolded in my head. Mainly, I was attracted to the narrative possibilities the underlying stories that could unfold within this unique context.