Cremaster 4

Cremaster 4 is part of The Artangel Collection. Since its initial presentation in 1994, it has been screened at Whitechapel Gallery in 2014 and Flatpack Festival, Birmingham in 2017.

  • Artist: Matthew Barney
  • Title: Cremaster 4
  • Date: 1994
  • Medium: Single-channel video.
  • Dimensions: Overall display dimensions variable
  • Duration: 43 minutes

Image: Matthew Barney, Cremaster 4, 1994 (detail)


Amongst the lapiths and centaurs, the gods and men, we find footballers, boy-racers and post-Freudian gladiators playing out an ancient gameplan in the Elysian fields of art. —  Adrian Searle, The Guardian 29 April 1995

Cremaster 4 is the first work from Matthew Barney's acclaimed project The Cremaster Cycle. Set on the Isle of Man, the film offers up a dream-like drama of compulsive forces that course through the body of the island and the famous 37-mile TT track. Barney himself plays the Loughton Candidate, an immaculately dressed satyr who tap dances and writhes through underwater canals while three fairies picnic on the grass above. The Island race propels the bikers and satyr through the Manx landscape to an ambient soundtrack of bagpipes and motorbikes; like the heroes of medieval tales of futuristic film, they appear as expressions of pure drive and desire.

Matthew Barney, Cremaster 4, 1995 at the The Midland Institute, Birmingham as part of Flatpack Festival. Image: Duncan Poulton.

at Flatpack Festival

Birmingham, 06 April 2017

The Cremaster Cycle was shown in its entirety for the first time in three years at Flatpack Festival, an annual film festival that takes place across the city of Birmingham. The five-film odyssey was presented to coincide with the Genecraft: Art in the Biogenetic Age exhibition at Birmingham Open Media and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s ‘I want! I want! – Art and Technology exhibition.

Image: Matthew Barney, Cremaster 4, 1995 at Flatpack Festival, Birmingham on 06 April 2015. Image: Duncan Poulton

at Whitechapel Gallery

London, 28 June 2014

Whitechapel Gallery presented a day-long screening of Matthew Barney's film series The Cremaster Cycle (1994–2002) to coincide with the UK premiere of Barney's opera River of Fundament at the English National Opera.  The cycle creates a mythology for the modern world: circling from Mormonism to Houdini, satyrs and nymphs to the Celtic giant Fingal and New York’s Chrysler Building. The screening was followed by a conversation between the artist and James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel.

Image: Exhibition guide accompanying Whitechapel Gallery's screening of the Cremaster Cycle, 2014. Image: Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery.

Previous Presentations

Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, Cremaster 4 has been screened at: