The logical conclusion to the love story

started in Drawing Restraint 9? (AKA Paying respects to woman-artist’s [continuing] journey)

Photo credit: Costume from the 2008 video for “Wanderlust” via NY Times. (This Shaman woman costume is one of my faves.) Now on display in her retrospective exhibit at MOMA, NY.


No restraint

It’s interesting to me when artists decide to document a love story, involving their partners. A couple of years ago friends Adele, Karl, Nicole and partner, and Wofford came over to watch the documentary No Restraint  (link to trailer) by director Alison Chernick, with John and me. It’s a compelling behind-the-scenes look at the making of the performance artist Matthew Barney’s (Björk’s partner of many years and father of her child) film “Drawing Restraint 9,” mainly filmed on a Japanese fishing vessel with an actual Japanese fishing crew, who seemed baffled, as part of the cast. (Photographer friend Norma watched in absentia.) There’s some narrative involving creativity(?), Japanese rituals and a giant petroleum jelly mold. The story is more eloquently described by SF MOMA. The parallel story line in the DR9 is a love story:

“Below deck, the two main characters participate as guests in a tea ceremony, where they are formally engaged after arriving on the ship as strangers. As the film progresses, the guests [played by Björk and Barney]  go through an emotional and physical transformation slowly transfiguring from land mammals into sea mammals, as they fall in love. ”
DR9, Wikipedia

There were definite call outs after the screening about Orientalism and heated, verbal cabbage throwing, not surprising from a group dominated by asian american creative women. For me, I felt that Björk’s performance and music gave his technically flawless film a soul, as other critics have pointed out.  (The few long films I’ve seen of his generally frighten and disgust me, speaking to the most base parts of my humanity. The main feeling I’ve had after seeing his past films and most recent trailer for River of Fundament (trailer): devolution.)


Lion Song

(and initial thoughts on Björk’s new breakup album, from a Björk *fan*)

** Please watch this on the big screen. Thank you.

Last night, John and I  watched the new moving video Lion Song from Bjork’s latest album, Vulnicura. It made me just feel like I wanted to give her a hug, actually anyone sad from a breakup, a hug. I think it was the string section that got me. What I always loved about Björk’s music, no matter how techno-influenced is: the influence of nature in her music and her describing past creative processes of singing in nature.  I’ve always found her music soulful and transcendent, even though she is labeled primarily as a pop musician who uses a lot of processing in her work. I like her music and would have wished to be at her concert (with tissue box) at Carnegie Hall last week to hear her sing live and with a live string orchestra too.

The “Invisible Woman”

Quite a few interesting articles have been written about the new album, but the most interesting one so far:
The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper in Pitchfork

“You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.”

Surprisingly, of the insightful threads in the article is about her new album, but about Björk working in the music industry as a woman. One example of the chauvinism she reportedly experienced repeatedly:

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album…

After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself….”


In her work, I find an artist embodying both traditional and modern female roles. I admire how her work can transcend both with good artistry and humanism. Back to the new album: In one of the most moving songs,  she mourns the death of her family in the song “Family.”

“Is there a place
Where I can pay respects
For the death of my family
Show some respect”




The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper, Pitchfork


Sometimes Heartbreak Takes a Hostage: For Björk, a New Album, ‘Vulnicura,’ and a MoMA Show, by John Pareles, NY Times

Review: Björk at Carnegie Hall, Heartbreak and Pathos, by Nate Chinen, NY Times

Björk sings karaoke cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division


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