Bruce Nauman

Bruce nauman self portrait as fountain 1966

° 1941

Born in Fort Wayne (Indiana) (US), lives in New Mexico (US).

Since the beginning of the sixties, the American artist Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) has been experimenting with drawings, photography, performances and sound installations. From the seventies onwards, he will focus increasingly on video montages and neon sculptures that take language and language confusion as their central theme. Nauman lures the viewer into a hectic labyrinth of words, repetitions and contradictions that turn feelings of excitement into doubt and disillusionment. However innocent the starting point of the scenarios may be, the succession of nuances, voice elevations and changing emotions confuse the viewer. The artist plays with the uncertainty between ‘misread’ and ‘misunderstood’, and in this way uses his artwork as a means to instigate in the viewer a mental, introspective process. A simple mind-set suddenly becomes an annoying mindfuck.

As a pioneer of the classical American video art, Bruce Nauman starts from an idea of art as an activity with a message that directly addresses the viewer. The communication he wants to conduct goes beyond mere dialogue; it is a treacherous call to take part in a train of thought, whereby the spectator becomes inconspicuously involved, and thereby part of the work. The visual language is so compact and direct that it becomes a mirror of one's own soul.

Text: Hans Willemse
Translations: Michael Meert

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