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Drawing Restraint 9 (2005)

Film by Matthew Barney
Music by Björk / Mark Bell
Sound by Dave Paterson

In cooperation with Babylon

After Dancer in the Dark, Björk actually didn’t want to act in a film again. Yet, 5 years later, she stood for and with Matthew Barney in front of the camera again.
On the one hand, Drawing Restraint 9 is a continuation of Barney’s series of performances that he began at the end of the 1980s. On the other, this film, as a work of art, also marks a new beginning, in which Barney and Björk celebrate their honeymoon as one of the most exalted artist couples in the world. Drawing Restraint 9 was commissioned by the 21st Century Museum for Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. Japanese culture is a focal point.
Two stones are ornately wrapped by a woman. Then there is a procession of Japanese dancers through a factory and a strangely decorated tanker transports petroleum to a whaling vessel. Barney and Björk board the ship, invited to a matrimonial tea ceremony. Whilst they both get ready, bizarre scenes are enacted – the sailors devour decoratively carved whale meat, divers pull a fossil out of the water, a whale is symbolically slain. Björk bathes in a pool, full of floating oranges, Barney is shaved and then sleeps. The sculpture on the deck draws towards completion, and the couple begins a gentle-brutal mutilation and transformation ritual at the end of which they melt.
Drawing Restraint 9 – it is images, sounds and music. Björk’s soundtrack builds a bridge between her own music, her singing style and traditional Japanese music and the use of traditional Japanese instruments. Unique, atmospheric moments occur, that, in some senses, stand in stark contrast to Barney’s direct, fragile or also just realistic design elements. The sound track is fascinatingly sparse for long periods – the cry of seagulls, the rattling of the sea breeze, the roar of the wind.