Arts & Culture

This Idaho artist made the Sawtooths, NRA sharpshooter the focus of a mythical film

At first blush, the wilds of Idaho’s backcountry don’t seem to have much in common with a big-city art gallery.

But for Matthew Barney, a New York City-based artist who grew up in Boise, one seemed like the ideal way to showcase the other.

Barney’s most recent film, called “Redoubt,” will be part of an exhibit at the artist’s alma mater, Yale University, from March 1 through June 16. It will then move to Beijing from Sept. 28 to Dec. 15, ending its tour at London’s Hayward Gallery between March 4 and May 10, 2020.

The 134-minute piece follows Diana, the Greek goddess of hunting, as she pursues an elusive wolf in Central Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains. In lieu of dialogue, the characters — including Barney as an engraver who documents Diana’s hunt in copper — communicate through dance.

“... The film layers classical, cosmological, and American myths about humanity’s place in the natural world, continuing Barney’s long-standing preoccupation with landscape as both a setting and subject,” according to the Yale Art Gallery’s website.

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A production still from artist Matthew Barney’s film, “Redoubt.” Based on the mythology of the Greek hunting goddess, Diana, “Redoubt” was filmed in Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains. Hugo Glendinning Matthew Barney, courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels, and Sadie Coles HQ, London

True to the theme of the hunt, Barney cast NRA National long-range shooting champion Anette Wachter as Diana.

“In casting the role of Diana, Matthew considered many women with different backgrounds, but sharpshooting ability was an essential skill for the role,” a representative from Barney’s studio told artnet News.

Barney told Yale Art Gallery’s magazine that the film was an exploration of the isolation he felt growing up in Idaho in the 1970s and ‘80s.

“With this project, I was interested in making a portrait of the Central Idaho region that would allow for a broad range of energies and expressions, both beautiful and problematic,” Barney told the magazine.

Its title is a nod to the American Redoubt movement, in which political activists “vote with their feet” by moving to mountain states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

In addition to the film, the exhibit will feature several copper engravings relating to the Greek mythology around Diana and Actaeon, a hunter who is turned into a deer and ripped apart by dogs after spying on Diana while she bathed.

15_YUAG_Matthew Barney_Redoubt_Virgins.jpg
Matthew Barney, an artist with Idaho roots, will include this copper cast in a new exhibit at Yale University. The exhibit includes a film shot in the Sawtooths. | Matthew Barney, Virgins, 2018. Cast and machined brass, and cast and machined copper Matthew Barney, courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Barney removed four burned tree trunks from the Sawtooths and covered them in molten metal as his final piece for the exhibit.

It’s not the first time Barney has showcased the rugged mountain range in his work. A previous film, “River of Fundament,” was shot in part near Redfish Lake, he told The Creative Independent in 2016. Additionally, he shot “Cremaster 1” in Albertsons Stadium.

“Idaho has been ... both a place to spend time and visit and also as a place to locate some specific narratives that I grew up with, and to articulate them in my work,” Barney told the arts website in a Q&A.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.