The Necropastoral and Matthew Barney

by on Nov.10, 2011

Amy Wright has written a fine review of Joyelle’s Necropastoral over on Hangman.


Tense is the operative denominator, as each “King Prion” first relieves the pressure with a valve-like whistle. “Hoooooooo” begins each poem in this seven-poem series with identical titles, as if none will withstand the heat of its own impetus without a preliminary release. The device is leading, generative of that space of union between reader and written Barthes uses to characterize text, and as demanding of confrontation as Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle.[iv] If you have heard McSweeney read the poems aloud, its operatic call is as up-lilting as a farmer bidding stock, summoning the Landrace of Bentheium in from the pastures, the fleecy white subjects of commercial interests. These are not your grandfather’s purchases.

Like Barney’s five-film cycle, The Necropastoral is a performance, an enactment that takes readers off the presented page. If you cannot make the showing, it will not, for you, be made. But there is comfort in the packaging, like bringing home a brochure from the 2002-3 exhibition. If the craft did not open for you and carry you into what the Guggenheim show curator, Nancy Spector, calls the “self-enclosed aesthetic system” of Barney’s cycle, you can still walk away with a picture of the dehorned red-head to remind you of its alien vision. McSweeney’s system, in contrast, is referential and dependent on connections within and without the series, including the character of King Prion and pastoral rhetoric. Readers function as a sonic bridge, transistors on whose ear crackles…

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