What Do Bjork and Petroleum Jelly Have in Common?

By Alissa Walker Comment


Lucky enough to be in San Fran for a day, we made our way to SFMOMA for the Matthew Barney show “Drawing Restraint.” This is a project he’s been working on since 1987, subjecting himself to all kinds of physical limitations while making art in the ultimate exploration of “artist as athlete.” A large-scale installation-in-progress has him sketching while rappelling down the museum’s inner atrium.


Another room explored sporting-like rituals in Japan with photos and drawings of whalers and fishermen (and, yes, his muse and wife, Bjork) and weird sculpture forms like the excavation of a whale carcass from petroleum jelly in huge shuddery blocks. This interactive feature from SFMOMA answered some of our questions–we get the jelly-oil-whale connection and plastic-lubrication-athleticism link–but in the end we were most thrilled–and haunted–by a film of wrestling minotaurs duking it out in the baby-blue interior of a limo.