Schaulager, Basel

June 12 through October 3, 2010
Ruchfeldstrasse 19
CH-4142 Münchenstein / Basel
T. +41 61 335 32 32

Drawing Restraint is a series of performances, numbering sixteen thus far, in which the artist Matthew Barney leaves traces in an environment of self-induced physical and psychological restraints. Works emerging from these performances, such as sculptures, vitrines, drawings and videos, are juxtaposed in the Schaulager exhibition with over 70 works of art from the Northern Renaissance (artists include Martin Schongauer, Urs Graf, Lucas Cranach).

The Foundation that operates Schaulager, the Laurenz Foundation, has acquired, in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Matthew Barney’s archive of this performance series. Thanks to the joint acquisition by these two institutions, the Drawing Restraint Archive is being presented to the public as a whole for the first time.

The basic idea of Drawing Restraint is that form can only take shape when it struggles against resistance. The first performances consisted of environments with ramps, sloping surfaces, elastic belts and obstacles that expressly served to restrict the artist’s skill. As the series developed, the setting of the performances became increasingly sophisticated and the narrative more allegorical.

Objects deriving from the performances capture certain aspects of the action as "secondary forms“ – drawings, sculptures, vitrines and photographs. These objects are never random but always carefully selected and arranged. Each action is also documented on video.