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300 Words From London: Bruce Nauman

300 Words From London: Bruce Nauman

"I Just Got Back From Nauman"

by Lake, Editor, London
first published: January, 2005
Kirk Lake's 300 Words From London

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLWsrfa3tMU

The first time this winter that it has actually been cold. Really cold. Walking along the Thames with real icy blasts. My coat buttoned up, walking fast, pitched forward hands in pockets against a tide of sweating, steaming joggers. It's always like that. The Jubilee walk is more like stumbling into the path of some thirty year olds fun-run. Where are they going? Why?

There's a Bruce Nauman (Earlier clowning from BN - pictured above) thing at Tate Modern. One of the Unilever Series created for the huge Turbine Hall. Its called Raw Materials. Its been there for some time. In fact it's been there longer than its going to stay there so maybe its an odd choice for this notional review.

It's taken me almost four months to be bothered to go. You see it really doesn't sound like much on paper. Twenty pairs of speakers playing bands of sound across the Turbine Hall; excerpts from Nauman's work looped over and over. But finally I'm there on a cold Wednesday morning and it's a revelation. It made me laugh.

There is a constant drone and then, as you walk around, snatches of conversation, jabbering, madman's chatter, "shit in your hat", "you listen to us/ we'll talk to you", somebody screaming NO NO NO NO... and it shifts in and out and mixes with the sounds of the viewers and their footsteps and it's a lot like waiting in a bus queue in Kilburn but without the chicken bones and chewing gum under your feet.

I like this kind of art. Chance and change and randomness. Cage intellectualized it, Burroughs took it from Gysin and developed the cut-up, Hip-hop acts and other musicians evolved it into sampling and made it fun. 

And Nauman is a funny artist. Beuys and Nauman would've been better TV than Reeves and Mortimer. Now why don't they give out prizes to the funniest artists?

Lake
Editor, London

Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.


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