Bruce Nauman “Disappearing Acts”

IMG_4616.jpgFor my 4D class, I took a trip to see Disappearing Acts by Bruce Nauman at MoMA. I found the exhibition to be startling and discomfiting, and walked away deep in thought. Nauman’s work in simple, but not minimalistic. He says exactly what he needs to and nothing more, and often lets his materials do much of the talking. He is more effective in conveying his meaning because of this sparseness. While one may miss his point at first, Nauman is able to guide his viewer to a conclusion with ease, and often this conclusion is unsettling in nature. I found myself feeling completely differently about many pieces after closer examination than I had on just a cursory glance. Upon fully understanding a Nauman work, I often would feel unsettled at his ability to force his viewers mind to go to places it would normally work to avoid. His piece “Audio-Video Underground Chamber” was especially haunting to me. It consisted of a small television on a shelf on the wall, playing a live video feed of an offsite underground chamber. I watched the feed for minutes before reading the description, which gave me the realization that I had been inadvertently projecting my consciousness into “the grave”. To quote Nauman, “To project oneself mentally into the scene is to contemplate the grave”. While Nauman refers to the grave as a “Blank abstraction that never ends”, I was struck by the struggle between this theoretical interpretation of a grave and the very literal finite grave, a place we will all end up and one that is unchanging and eternal. When each and every one of us is laid to rest, we will remain there forever. That spot on earth is unchanging, and to imagine oneself there premature raises all sorts of questions about the nature of death and the infinity that it is. I was also inspired by his work “One Hundred Live and Die”. I am in a projects in glass class where we are learning to make neon signs, so this large scale piece was very inspiring and interesting. His use of not only different colors but variations on live and die, along with the coordinated phrases that strategically lit up in tandem, were fascinating to see, especially knowing how difficult neon is to work with.

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