Björk Is Sick of a Certain Someone’s ‘Apocalyptic Obsessions’

The cover of Vulnicura.

The cover of Vulnicura.

Björk, who will be the subject of a career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in March, released her new album Vulnicura this week, two months earlier than expected. In a Facebook post announcing the release, the singer called it a “complete heartbreak album” and dropped references to a “break up.” She doesn’t name names, but it’s pretty clear that at the heart of the album is Matthew Barney, as the end of his relationship with Björk has been the subject of intense media speculation since at least 2009. It’s hard not to read Barney into the album’s 10-minute centerpiece, “Black Lake.” Over a swelling of strings–Björk will tour with a 15-piece orchestra in support of Vulnicura–she sings:

You fear my limitless emotions
I am bored of your apocalyptic obsessions
Did I love you too much
Devotion bent me broken
So I rebelled
Destroyed the icon

Apocalyptic obsessions! Remember that just about a year ago, Barney released his six-hour film, River of Fundament, in the United States. This featured Egyptian Gods violently fighting to the death in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a murky pool of excrement that acts as a kind of reincarnating fountain of youth, and a spot-on replica of the Brooklyn Heights apartment of Norman Mailer, a man who actually coined the phrase “apocalyptic orgasm” as a catch-all philosophy for a bohemian lifestyle. (In the film, Barney himself plays the essence of Mailer’s soul. After six hours, I’m sure a lot of people were a little bored of Barney’s apocalyptic obsessions.)

So, let’s break this down a bit. The collapse of his longtime relationship with probably the most original and captivating musical artist of the last 20 years led Barney to film himself literally wading into a river of shit while the world possibly falls apart around him. The collapse of her relationship with probably the most original and captivating visual artist of the last 20 years led Björk to hire a string section and perform a cycle of songs that is depressing enough to make Nick Drake look like the Marx Brothers. All this is to say that both Matthew Barney and Björk are dealing with their break-up way better than anyone else is.

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