Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bruce Nauman at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal by Alexander Wenderoff


Mr. Wenderoff is interning here at the gallery, this is what he wrote about the Bruce Nauman show
There is one image from the Bruce Nauman exhibit at the Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal that really stayed with me. It was not the One Hundred Fish Fountain, nor was it Nauman’s famed The True Artist helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths. It wasn’t really even of a work of at. I was exploring a back passage which eventually lead me to Anthro/Socio (Rinde Spinning) room, where I saw a security guard trying to make sense of the situation. He looked absolutely baffled. After he noticed I was there too, and that I was part of the group of people that claim to understand it, he left me to experience the videos myself. I left about thirty seconds afterwards as I can only handle videos of screaming, spinning, upside down heads for so long. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone as confused as that security guard, at least not in a real long time. The poor guy was just trying to figure out what the hell was going on in that room, and I’d assume also why anyone who would appreciate such things. If he had asked me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell him. I myself have no clue what the hell was going on in that room. The same can be said for the other rooms with videos, Clown Torture, Office Edit II and Square Dance.

The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), 1967, Neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension frame, 59 x 55 x 5 inches; Ed. 2/3, Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, ©Bruce Nauman / SODRAC (2007)

Well that’ not entirely true. I was, to an extent, able to comprehend what was occurring, the issue I had more trouble resolving was why it was occurring. If I have the choice, which I usually do, I would rather not watch a video of a clown sitting on a toilet while other videos of said clown screaming “No No No No!” engulf me in noise. I worked one office job in my life, and it sucked, and when I left the office I left for good, so why would I want to watch a video of an office at night, as I could in Office Edit II? I’m sure it’s a social commentary of some sort in Nauman’s mind. Whatever.

The videos, needless to say, did not do it for me. On the other hand, Nauman’s neon work in the Elusive Signs part of the exhibit is great. There are tons of wires needed for this part of the exhibit, and while they are quite visible, do not interfere. Flashing lights on some works do not distract the spectator when viewing a nearby piece. I have a soft spot for word games, so maybe I’m a bit biased when it comes to discussion of such pieces as None Sing Neon Sign, which is simply the words none, sing, neon, and sign, none sing being an anagram of neon sign. Maybe I'm just easily impressed, but I think that’s pretty cool.

Run from Fear, Fun from Rear, 1972, Neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension frame, two parts, 8 x 24 x 2 ½ inches each; Ed. 4/6, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, ©Bruce Nauman / SODRAC (2007)

There is also an installation piece called Helman Gallery Parallelogram where one walks through a tiny space in a narrow wall into a room lit with neon green, then out another tiny passageway. It hurt my eyes and made me feel a little claustrophobic. Probably should have read the sign that warns that spectators may feel confined in the installation before I went in there.

One Hundred Fish Fountain, 2005, 97 poissons en bronze de 7 formes différentes, suspendus avec du fil en acier, inoxydable sur un treillis métallique. Dimensions approximatives du bassin : 7,6 m x 8,5 m x 20,3 cm, Avec l’aimable permission de la Donald Young Gallery, Chicago, ©Bruce Nauman / SODRAC (2007) Photo : Richard-Max Tremblay

The highlight of the exhibit is the One Hundred Fish Fountain (which actually only contains 97 fish), located at the back of the exhibit. The sound of the water flowing overwhelms the neighbouring room, and draws you in to behold the fountain. That’s fine, there were some more videos in the neighbouring room, so not missing a whole lot by zooming through there towards the sound. It really does feel as though the fish are swimming in the flowing water, even though the fish are actually suspended above the stagnant pool of water. All in all it’s a solid exhibit, showing a fascinating artist who works with various media and definitely worth checking out. I just can’t help but feel the security guards working there think we must be crazy.

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