Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs

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  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


    I 49 Brut Nau ntion" is to pay attention. Still, the question caonor bur oag as to whar,beyond been trumped in a forced language game, has beenachieved. What have we been paying attention to? To the commandand to nothing else. The moment we pay attent ion to the lettering, towhether the lettering goes forward or backward, to whether the command is plaintive or ugly, we are no longer in compliance with the di-rective but rather are attentive in the ordinary way in which we regardworks of art io galleries- we are outside the horizons of the languagegame. So the anise's victory is f irly trivial. Ir is a kind of oke. Like writing "Behold " when there is nothing co look at bur che imperative icself

    PAY ATTENTION may seem a rather minor work for th is degree ofcritical examination, but it typifies the Nauman corpus. Ir is peremptory, invasive, aggressive; it uses coarse language in its lithographic version); it straddles (in the collage version) the boundary benveen a workofart and a poster- an admonition on the wall of he machine shop towatch what one s doing and hence raises the deep ontological questions tha t have bcc:n with us since at least Duchamp; it similarly straddles the boundary berween writing and image that has come to definean encire genre ofarr-making; and ir uses (again in the co llage version)unprepossessing, even proletarian materials, which defined the minimalisr movement with irs various ideologies and established an aesthetic axis berween American art in the late 1960s and such Europeanart movements as Arte Povera, which gave Nauman a widely appreciative audience on the Continent. PAY A TEN110 N was borrowed froman important Italian collection for the MoMA show.) AU this has madeNauman the cynosure the focus of rapt attention, to make an internal connection berween artist and work- of our advanc

  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


    I 15 Arthur C O tocalled Allegories of Modernism, there was a photomontage ofanimalforms called Modelfar Animal PyramidJI as well as a drawing of whatlooked like a suffering animal that w s delicate, beautiful, and, in itsown way, as moving as Anthro Sodo . . . There is, in the catalogue cothe present show, a photograph ofAnimalPyramid a kind of acrobaticforn1ation of animals (Nauman uses raxidermy forms for these), withdeer at the base and smaller animals as one ascends. I have no idea ofcheintent behind chat piece, but it conveys a sense of overwhelming meaningfulness, and I muse say on the basis of theseworks, that I was prepared to regard Nauman as a very major artisr indeed. When asked cowrite a citation ro go with a major prize to be awarded him, I wrote, inpart, He is an avant-garde arcist whose theme is the human condition,and whose aim is ro make us conscious of our limits and our needs.

    Nor one of these works, save for the phocomonrage, is in the presentshow, which is in the aggregate so inconsistent with the above appraisalof Nauman as an artist chat I am consrrained co ascribe chis co a d.ivision in his own arcistic persona, between the humanist I believed himto be and the smarcass perpetrator of aesthetic practical jokes in whichchis noisy, awful exhibition consists. Eicher char or there is a divisionberwecn the curaroriat, who seem dazzled by the artist who made theseworks, and me, who is repelled by them. t is possible char che revulsion, which made me wanr co flee rhe museum, was compounded bythe h igh expectations I had had, based on partl al evidence. Thar evidence had lso caused me co explain away a number of ocher Naumanworks I had seen-a chain-Link cage, a constricting passage bcrweenwalls, and some jejune wordplays in neon-racher than co construct am.ore realistic picrure of his achievement.The piece de resistance at MoMA is Nauman's celebrated Clown Tor-ture of 1987, which, like Anlhro/Socio . . . , is made up of a number ofvideo images, although che spirit could hardly be more different. Theimages are of downs doing, with one exception, fairly clownish things,like bolding goldfish bowls against the ceiling wi th broomsticks andmaking a lot of racket. Whatever they do, they do over a.nd over, sochar repecicion is as thematic here as in the chant of Anthro/Socio . . .Pare of the cacophony consists in a tiresome joke one clown cells as hisroutine, a joke with a certain logical kinship co PAY TTEN1/0N t goes:Pere and Repeat were sitting on a fence. Pere fell of f. Who was left.?

    Repeat. Pete and Repeat were sining on a fence. Pete fell off. Who wasleft? Repeat . . . rhe joke never comes to the poinr o r its not coming

  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


    182 Jean Charles sserus. The neac lircle jig (Get O,,t ofMy Mind, Get Out ofThis Room) hasdisintegrated inro a cacophony, but the effect is only magnified. ssoon as you get in you have ro get our.

    r991 For the exhibition Lllil.OCATIONS, a gallery at MoMA isplunged into semi-darkness. Anthro Socio (Rinde Facing Camera):closeup on a shaven-headed lace projected on three walls and six monitors,screaming with deafening intensity: Feed Me/Eat Me/Anthropology .. . Help Me/Hun Me/Sociology . . . Feed Me, Help Me, Ear Me, HurtMe. The instaUacion rurn.s into a demonsrn.tion of strength. Thegallery aces like a sounding box that amplifies th e scansion of the cries.Sensurround. A pro=s that surprises us like h it in the back ofthe neck. The kind of intensity chat doesn't give you any trace ofwhecher you're going to like it or not.12 Creation of a three-

  • 8/13/2019 Bruce Nauman Anthro-Socio Refs


    I 85 ance With the awcoppling chairs, and sounds of fighting bodies. We rediscover rhe media logic rhac links violent actions n a chain, eliminating the cransitions and che order of causal fuccors. The televised event is an infleccio.n, a flow. But here, the splintering of the scenario leaves us at arespeccable distance: the blasc TV viewer. This disca.nce confirms rheconsrimtion of an exclusively spectacular body and the development ofa sphere and a temporaliry which have been entirely separated from thesubject (exclusion).

    Shit in Your Ha Head on a Chair: hanging in front of the screenon wh ich rhe mime's body loses all digniry (all will), is the green cast ofa head with its eyes closed, lying on a chair. A head severed from itsbody and its acciviry. n activity rhat unfolds on the screens or in rheneons. An activity severed from rhe subject. Where certain activities ofrhe early 1970s "force you to be aware of your body " che lacer insrallacions seem to deprive the subject of body of experience. T heshrinking corridors acted to heighten the awareness of the senses andthe sentiment ofself. The acoustic and visual juxcaposirion opposed bythe simultaneous functioning of rhe monitors and mural projection inClown Torture, Clown Taking a Shit pu ts ou r bodies in a situation ofhyperesthesia. e's che paradox of a hearing cesc char denies cbe speccator even rheslightest room for reflection. Hyperesthesia curos into sensory deprivation.

    Touch and Sound Walls (1969): two waUs 12 mecers apart. By touching the 6rsc, the speccacor produces a sound chac che second wall echoesafter a slighc delay. Self-consciousness depends on the experience of delay (hearing oneself chink). The retrOJfuctive awareness of one's ownbodily acciviry. Anrhro/Socio Rinde Facing Camera) . World PeaceReceived): a room with a chair chat invites us co have a sear, faces that

    address us and lee us know chat we arc considered che actors of aprocess, that we have access to spc