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Matthew Barney’s Cremaster five-film cycle—which, for the sake of getting it out of the way, draws its name from the muscle responsible for raising and lowering the scrotum—is essentially unavailable for private viewing. Barney only produced 20 DVD sets of the collection, which each fetched at least $100,000; components have since been resold for more than half a million. Such locations as the Chrysler Building, Boise State University, Budapest, and the Isle of Man served as locations for the eight-year project. And like Barney’s other work, Cremaster is disquietingly beautiful as often as it is shockingly grotesque. (This is, after all, from the same man who last year at the opening of a Greek exhibition space called The Slaughterhouse impaled a shark on a spit, roasted it over an open fire, and fed it to the guests.) The Cremaster films include marching bands, goat-eared protagonists, serial killers, and amorphous blobs of flesh, often played by Barney himself. There is little dialogue, plenty of ambient music, and endless discontinuity. Though the films are being presented in numerical order, it probably doesn’t matter what order you watch them in—it’s not going to make a whole lot of sense anyway.
THE CREMASTER CYCLE IS ON VIEW FRIDAY, OCT. 8 TO THURSDAY, OCT. 14 AT E ST. CINEMA, 555 11TH ST. NW. TIMES VARY. SCREENINGS ARE $10. (202) 452-7672.