This hit 45 years ago shook the football world. Then, just as quickly, people moved on. But that wasn’t the case for New England Patriots receiver Daryl Stingley, who withstood a head-on attack from Oakland Raiders’ Jack Tatum. Stingley became a quadriplegic. Defender Tatum, known as “The Assassin,” is notorious for never apologizing.
Artist Matthew Barney, who was 11 years old in Idaho at the time, remembers the incident because it was constantly playing in slow motion on his TV. He himself was just starting to get serious about the sport, and while Tatum and Stingley’s clash was shocking, it didn’t stop him. Violence was instilled in football training, he recalled. It was addictive too.
“What that hit in the head and what it felt like in the body was my entry point,” Bernie said in an interview in March, which was being edited.secondary, his new five-channel video installation takes that 1978 event as its starting point. He said he enjoyed practice where he was ordered to hit other boys at top speed. “When you walk away, I can see the stars.”
Bernie went on to become an elite quarterback in high school, but changed course while at Yale, and from there in 1989 he branched out into the New York art world, where he found near-instant success. Physical coercion was immediately prominent in his work.draw constraint”In projects, for example, he used himself to move along the walls and ceilings of the gallery, trying to paint on the walls.
Barney’s 1991-1992 production Jim Otto Suite was one of the first to establish his unique approach to combining performance, video and sculpture, inspired by football. The inspiration was Raiders player Otto. Otto had a prosthetic on his body due to repeated injuries. Otto’s story collapsed resilience and destruction, artistically opening up the horizons of performance and sculpture.
However, sport itself recedes in Bernie’s work, in favor of countless other themes such as sexual differentiation, reincarnation, cars, sewers, excrement, and his Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002). It will be swallowed by the magnificent scale and baroque production of. The movie “River of Fundament” (2014). (A movie theater called Metrograph in Manhattan, Screening of the “Cremasta” movie This month and next month. )
“Secondary” means Open until June 25th, Barney has a stuck situation that goes back to his childhood. From a position of physical and intellectual maturity, he scrutinizes a sport that may or may not have changed, and a country because football is quintessentially America. Now 56, he’s taking a hard look at himself and his country.
“Violence in our culture is evident everywhere you look,” he says. “I think my relationship with that legacy is due to my experience on the football field. I wanted to create a piece that looked at it in multiple ways.”
For Bernie, the new record is simple. It runs in one hour of him, which is equivalent to the time of a football match. Six of the 11-star cast played players in the 1978 game, including Barney as Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler. Filming took place at Barney’s Warehouse Studios in Long Island City near the East River. And the work is now on display to the public at that very venue — his last use of the space before moving to a nearby facility.
Last fall and winter, the studio served as a mock soccer field, motion lab, and movie set. When I visited, the main performers were: David Thomsonwho plays Stingley and serves as the project’s motion director. Raphael Xavieras Tatum — was running several episodes in an indirect sequence that told the story abstractly.
Weird things were happening too. Additional performers around the sidelines were dressed in all-black outfits of die-hard Raiders fans and walked around like Camp Horror puppets. He was an actor, but he was also a member of the Raiders’ New York City fan club. Some were filmed in trenches dug into the studio floor, exposing pipes, dirt and water.
Bernie said the artist’s studio has the character of a stadium. “It’s kind of the facilitator of this story,” he said, adding, “I wanted my workplace to be a character.”
Digging the ditch revealed decaying pipes and the way tides flooded and receded under the building, he said. “I wanted that infrastructure to be exposed, not only as a manifestation of Stingley’s broken spine, but also as the crumbling infrastructure in my studio, in New York City,” he said.
Despite all the innuendos, the “secondary” (this title refers to the defender’s back line, cornerback and safety on a football field, whose job is to shadow wide receivers and prevent passing plays) is Tatum. And the Stingley case is taken as that case. A core of narrative and morality.
It is both rich and tragic material. Stingley died in 2007 at the age of 55. Tatum, 61, died three years later. Stingley wanted an apology all his life after the incident, but it was never done. Tatum boasted that his style of play pushed the line, but insisted that hitting was just part of his job. Since then, many studies have corroborated the damage of this sport. Stabler, played by Barney in “Secondary,” contributed to this knowledge after his death when his brain was found to show progressive chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
I asked former quarterback Bernie if he started to worry about his health. “Honestly, yes,” he said. He added that he was happy when he stopped playing.
“Secondary” has a staccato form, amplified by its rendition. Overhead devices such as jumbotrons display one video channel on three screens and the other four channels run on monitors around the studio. Hits are triggered early on, but much of the action afterward goes back to building up. The players warm up and the fans get excited. The play sequence takes up about the last third of him.
The point was never taken literally, said Thomson, the movement’s director and a close collaborator of Mr. Bernie’s on the project. “This is not a documentary drama,” he said. “I’m not trying to be a stranger like Stingley. We’re not representing his life, we’re representing a moment.”
Still, Thomson said that by studying real-life athletes, he extracted traits that told him how to work with the actors playing them. Stingley was serious, he said. Tatum gets mad. Grogan, technical. Each feature, he said, “becomes a touchstone to go back to without too much glory and see what resonates from it.”
During their research, Barney and Thomson read Tatum and Stingley’s autobiographies and watched hours of football highlights and practice reels. The hit video was born in a non-competitive preseason game. coarse and sparse. The camera follows the ball past Stingley’s outstretched arm so that the hit occurs at the edge of the frame. It didn’t have dozens of camera angles like it does today.
This opened up space for improvisation and allowed Barney to introduce sculptural props negotiated by the players. (Bernie has always stated that he is the primary sculptor, and these works will be shown in future exhibitions.)
Dancer Xavier, who plays Tatum, had to contend with a pile of wet clay dumbbells that swelled and broke as he carried them. “I’ve worked with props before, and the props were solid,” he said. “But the clay was alive.” Thereby he finds weakness, even tenderness, in a character in his own childhood memory of an aggressive and even mean football player. he said.
In fact, the central characters of “Secondary” are middle-aged men negotiating with the culture they grew up in, and with their own bodily memory. Although stylized, the football moves contained in this work are not instinctive or easy for men in their 50s and 60s.
Bernie “was particularly hoping for an older body, and I was grateful for that,” Thomson said. “What are the limitations of these bodies that can lead to different resonances and different visual narratives?”
But “secondary” includes another perspective as indicative of the broader contemporary American social landscape. Judges are mixed men and women. Jacqueline DesidonComposer, experimental vocalist and member of the San Carlos Apache Nation, he presents an extremely deconstructed version of the national anthem.
“As an indigenous people, this was exciting for me,” said Desidon. They also became drawn to the environmental aspects of the film, spending breaks staring at the wet ditch on set. “The image of bones and burial and repatriation came to mind.
Bernie is a celebrity in the art world (whose fame only grew during his decade-plus relationship with Icelandic pop artist Björk), but prefers to keep a low profile. On set, he showed off his weekday presence with a tight-shaven look under his cap. “Secondary” performers said his work ethic was strong, but his demeanor was open. Some, like composer Jonathan Bepler, have been collaborating on the project for years, but many are new to his world.
“Secondary” has a sense of Bernie turning pages — yes, he moved studios after working there for about 15 years — but it’s also private. When I asked him if he felt his age, his age as our contemporaries, he said yes.
“In a good way,” he added. “Letting go of being young brings a lot of relief.”
Compared to his previous work, “Secondary” exudes a more concise and collaborative atmosphere. “It’s more connected to the world,” he says. “It’s a work that thinks through the environment in which it’s made. In my twenties, I was trying to find a way to assign a material language to what was inside me. This work is different in that sense.” “
A “secondary” might take its cues from 1978 and invite players through their bodies into a sort of memory exercise. But the structure of the piece is so heavy on the buildup to bad events that everyone knows they’re about to come, enlivened by premonitions.
It ends in a vein of pathos, the final shot spreading over the city. “We felt it was important to look from specifics to generalities,” said Barney. “As much as studios are a kind of microframe, there are larger frames that are the cities and countries we live in. We need a certain kind of legibility to read those different scales. for all of them to be there.”