Brantley, Rebecca Ray
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A multimedia series of five films, sculptures, drawings and photographs that were made in the years spanning 1994 to 2002, the Cremaster cycle by Matthew Barney (American, b. 1967) functions as an allegory of an embryo’s “pre-sexual” stage of development. With visual elements that have little to do with the alleged plot, the films are confused further by an order of production that does not reflect their numerical designations. Thus, the films, the focus of this thesis, seem to lack a single narrative arc. Arguably, one of the paths that the films may take reflects skeptically—as if to ultimately disorder—the trajectory of Western history that is marked by its high and low, or classical and baroque, binaries. The ultimate focus of this thesis is on Cremaster 5 and its relationship to neo-baroque theory as it has been defined in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.