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Drawing Restraint S2

'Drawing Restraint 2', Matthew Barney, 1988.

Rottweiler screenshot 2

Drawing Restraint - Matthew Barney, 1987

In describing the origins of Drawing Restraint, Barney proposes that "as an athlete you understand that your body requires resistance in order to grow" and that for him the same self-imposed resistance could be applied to the generation of form, or to the process of drawing.

At the centre of the Drawing Restraint series there is a physical laboriousness that tempts the artist - or at least is the case in my practice - with the reward of some sort of understanding (sought after in the labor intensive drawings of the Consensual Crimes series). Whether that promise is actually fulfilled or not is another question, but the process nonetheless strives for it. Elaborated on in the Narrative Identity section, this 'promise' has its pitfalls. The idea that effort, struggle, physicality, and laboriousness is somehow equal to value encourages a particular normative view of masculinity that, when pushed to extremes, can perpetuate certain cycles of violence or "psychic self-mutilation" (The Will To Change, bell hooks, 2004).

In Rottweiler, the protagonist swings between these poles: that of struggling towards value through pure labor and physicality, and of relinquishing that performative masculinity for something perhaps more tender and sustainable.

From a technical standpoint, the 'set' of Rottweiler intentionally aims to echo those of the early Drawing Restraint series (figured left) - from the monochromatic palette, nondescript white room but for a mess of industrial props and physical obstacles, to the composition of the frame itself and staccato movements of the protagonist.

Barney's early work - which featured something of an economy of means by virtue of the static camera and DIY aesthetic, is echoed in aspects of Lockdown Diary.

Screenshot from Rottweiler, 2019. 

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