Tate Liverpool

Bruce Nauman

Make Me Think Me

19 May - 27 Aug 2006

Bruce Nauman: Make Me Think Me, installation view at Tate Liverpool, 2006
Bruce Nauman
19 May – 28 August 2006

Tate Liverpool will present the largest exhibition in Britain of the work of American artist Bruce Nauman since 1998. Nauman is one of the most influential artists working today and has been a significant inspiration for many artists. Focusing upon his preoccupation with the human condition, the exhibition is divided into two. The first half examines his use of language in relation to the human condition and is juxtaposed with his use of the body as a symbol to convey wider meaning in the second.

Nauman studied mathematics as an undergraduate and approaches making art as a process of investigation, creating experiments in which subjects are tested, often to their limits. He explores art's potential as an instrument to investigate the human condition and the systems and structures that determine human behaviour.

The exhibition opens with neon works, sculpture, video and works on paper that incorporate wordplay. They test language to the point at which it can no longer function, rendering a basic form of human interaction impossible. This section also includes his instructional pieces where language is used as a tool to control the behaviour of the audience and performers.

In the latter half of the exhibition the subject shifts from the artist's own body, to that of the audience's and finally to the human and animal form in his casts from the late 1980s onwards. Nauman based his early explorations of the human condition on his own body. Alone in the studio, he examined how his own situation and actions, such as obsessively pacing around the room, could become emblematic of a wider condition. These ideas were confirmed through his reading of Samuel Beckett and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Beginning with a selection of films from the late 1960s in which Nauman recorded simple, repetitive actions performed in his studio the exhibition continues with an example of a corridor installation that, housing CCTV cameras and monitors, functions as an electronic mirror in which the audience become the performer.

The exhibition culminates with a selection of Nauman's human and animal casts. The casts are confrontational and force a reassessment of our own behaviour and relationship to nature. Hanging almost playfully like a child's mobile, they function as symbols through which a wider commentary or examination of the human condition is conveyed.
 

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