Matthew Barney at Mona: the artist at the edge of the world

It’s midday on Sunday and I’m sitting in the “art installation suite” of a Hobart hotel opposite American artist Matthew Barney. He wears a moss-coloured trucker hat perched high on his head, not quite shading his piercing blue eyes, and a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words Pig Destroyer. They’re a grindcore band from Virginia, he tells me, but it could be a piece of his own merchandise. If Barney did merchandise. Which he doesn’t.

On Friday night at the city’s full-house Federation concert hall, I watched the body of a suckling pig (and much else besides) decompose over the five-and-a-quarter hours of Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s latest film, River of Fundament. And that pig’s skeleton is now contained within a vitrine in Barney’s exhibition of the same name at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

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