An Inclusive Litany

3/12/03

New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the Guggenheim Museum permission to build a temporary wooden enclosure on its roof to store a ton of frozen Vaseline used by artist Matthew Barney. The New York Times reports that the Vaseline "will be seen running down the interior of the Guggenheim's rotunda in specially designed troughs. Frozen Vaseline will cover the front of an Art Deco bar.... [A] hidden hose, fed from the roof enclosure through the museum's lighting system, would keep the Vaseline on the bar at 17 degrees so it holds its shape."

Barney was the subject of a long, thoughtful profile in The New Yorker. The Times' chief art critic Michael Kimmelman describes Barney as "the greatest American artist of his generation." In one of the artist's videos, he is depicted "climbing naked up a pole and cables and applying dollops of Vaseline to his orifices." Barney's Guggenheim exhibit, running through June 11, will also feature daily screenings of "Cremaster," a five-part film cycle inspired by the muscle that raises and lowers the testicles.

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