Cremaster 2, released in 1999, was the fourth installment of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. The film has a circular narrative that intertwines the life and death of murderer Gary Gilmore with Harry Houdini who was rumoured to be Gilmore’s grandfather. Throughout the film bees are used as an allegory of Gilmore’s struggle with his destiny. The film opens with a seance where the spirit of Houdini is summoned and the conception of Gilmore is seen. The film then progresses to the murder of the gas station attendant that resulted in Gilmore’s capture. In this sequence, two Mustangs are joined together on a gas station forecourt, depicting the relationship between Gilmore and his partner Nicole Baker, both of who owned similar cars. The shooting of the station attendant moves the narrative to the trial and to Gilmore’s execution which is portrayed as a bull rodeo to the death on the Utah salt flats. In death, Gilmore’s life is linked back to Houdini through the depiction of his grandmother meeting with Houdini at the Columbian Exposition Hall, an act that sets in motion the circular narrative.
The catalogue produced for the film contains numerous production shots, drawings and associated artwork. As with all of his books, it was lavishly produced with numerous 4 panel foldouts and comes in a blue plastic slipcase, embossed with the Cremaster 2 emblem.
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