Bruce Nauman: Exhibition Essay

Ashante K. Charles

Professor Am Schmidt

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018


Bruce Nauman’s Exhibit on Disappearing Acts

As I was on my way to attend the exhibition of Bruce Nauman, I contemplated what I would be expecting in this exhibit. I was filled with curiosity to what influence Bruce has elicited within art, who was he, what style of art he is accustomed to, and what theme he has accomplished in conveying? At the very entrance, you can hear in the far left corner water running against hard plastic echoing, a laundry tub displayed below plaster face molds, with water spouting out from their open mouths. The most significant aspect of this installation was the sound, you can’t escape it nor disregard it. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations in other words “putting yourself in unfamiliar situations”  is how I would describe this installation as it’s unusual yet captivating. The most impressive component of this exhibit was the entire space he consumed with his artwork, it was an extensive landscape, allowing his audience to travel through his art. Displaying the creative process of his work, from sketches and diagrams the audience can appreciate. It provided us with an insight into himself when creating, it catered our curiosity. As I explored the exposition, I found a sculpture that took me time to notice. I had taken a glance at the sculpture and assumed it was a wall installed to separate the artworks, however, I acknowledged it once a woman appeared from inside, between the walls of the sculpture. The sculptural installation was actively engaging as it allowed myself to socialize with the subject that was a significant attribute to the piece, I rarely find these instances to interact with a piece of artwork.  A room vocalizing the days of the week echoing along a narrow path. Passing through this installation was unsettling, the reiteration of voices was individually unique from the way it was verbalized, “Monday, Tuesday Wednesday…” evoking the passage of time. The surveillance camera installed in all four corners were interactive, this was another element in the exhibit that allowed us to experience uneasiness with curiosity. It was amusing entertaining ourselves being watched, especially having us the essence of the piece. One other artwork at the exhibit was the neon signs, a repetition of words aligned, appearing alternatively and simultaneously while composing juxtaposition in intervals. The neon signs were the most memorable piece of his exhibit, the words he contrasted were unorthodox yet it attracted the audience, drawing them in through its peculiar nature. Bruce Nauman’s work has been established as conceptual art, however, I would frame it as experimental art additionally, some of Nauman’s other pieces seemed somewhat messy or appeared unfinished, although it may be a style he attempts to convey through his pieces, with a semblance of rawness. A style is not identified with Bruce’s artwork as he uses a variety of mediums to compose in his concept, within the content he produced. As I did enjoy the exhibition, my experience with his art was unfamiliar and strange yet intriguing, unlike the ones I have attended. Overall most of the other pieces were difficult for me to interpret, deciphering what connection it encompassed with the concept of “Disappearing Acts.”


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