Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bruce Nauman

"Language has always played a central role in Bruce Nauman's work, providing him with a means of examining how human beings exist in the world, how they communicate or fail to communicate. For Raw Materials, he has selected 22 spoken texts taken from existing works to create an aural collage in the Turbine Hall. Removed from their original context, the individual texts and voices become almost abstract elements, taking on new meanings as they are rearranged as part of a single work."
- Emma Dexter, Curator



"Bruce Nauman is one of the most important artists of our time. Early in his career, he abandoned painting in favour of sculpture, performance, installation, film, video, photography and neon. This restless exploration of different media reflects a continual questioning and reinvention of his artistic practice. In the 1960s he was one of the pioneers of video art, making a series of groundbreaking videos in which he filmed himself in his studio performing various simple, often absurd, tasks. In subsequent videos he has often used actors to repeat a written text, with nuanced variations, so revealing the ambiguities and dead-ends of language. Sound has always been important to his artistic practice, sometimes as pure audio works, sometimes incorporated as an element in videos or large-scale architectural installations.

Nauman’s interest in lexical systems shares something with the plays of Samuel Beckett or the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. His fascination with deconstructing language and exposing its inherent ambiguities is paralleled by his approach to making art. In this work, the boundaries between sculpture, sound and language are blurred. The Turbine Hall is empty, but has paradoxically been filled with acoustic material based on the written word. It could be described as a play on the notion of ‘volume’, since as well as being a measurement of space and of sound, ‘volume’ suggests a text. It is precisely this sense of instability, where a single thing has many layers of meaning that often contradict one another, which Nauman’s work addresses." - Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator



"when i saw this exhibit, my friends and i made a bet to see who could stay the longest in that room, and by five minutes, i started getting these weird violent cravings. the tour guide said that the piece is supposed to represent how it felt for bruce to live in modern day society. it's sort of chilling to be empathetic..." - MicDollaBIll

Bruce Nauman was born in Indiana, USA in 1941. After studying mathematics at university he had his first solo exhibition in 1966. Since the 1970s he has exhibited internationally, including Bruce Nauman, a major retrospective in 1995, and Bruce Nauman: Image/Text 1966-96, which travelled to the Hayward Gallery, London. - Tate Modern: The Unilever Series: Bruce Nauman - Raw Materials.

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