PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART /
PHILADELPHIE
 
Schaulager / BASEL<br />M<span class="ath-small">o</span>MA PS1 / New York
 
Bruce Naumann
 
 
After the joint acquisition with the LACMA in 2011 of the work <i>For Beginners</i> by Bruce Nauman, the Pinault Collection just went into a partnership with the Philadelphia museum of Art to purchase two works by the American artist, born in 1941: <i>Contrapposto Studies, I through VII</i> (2015–16), and <i>Walks In Walks Out</i> (2015).


<div class="col m-10 pull-right align-right"> <span class="lieu">Philadelphia Museum of Art /</span><br> <span class="lieu">Philadelphia</span> </div> <div class="col m-10 pull-left align-left"> <span class="lieu"><i>Walks In Walks Out /</i></span><br> <span class="lieu"><i>Contrapposto Studies,<br>I through VII</i></span> </div> <div class="clear"><br><br><br></div> <div class="col m-4 auteur pull-left noclick"> <div class="inner" style="padding-top:20px;"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Interview of</a><br> <b>Bruce Nauman</b><br> </div> </div> </div> <div class="col m-4 auteur pull-right"> <div class="inner"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Interview by</a><br> <b>Carlos Basualdo</b><br> <span style="display: none;"> The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art </span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clear"><br><br><br><br><br></div> <i><u>Carlos Basualdo</u> — We didn’t really get around to talking about <span class="artwork">Walks In Walks Out</span>. I was curious if you could tell me how the work came about.</i> <br> <br><u>Bruce Nauman</u> — Initially it was just to give Angela [Westwater] a sense of what the scale of the projections [in <i>Contrapposto Studies</i>] should be. So Bruce used his iPhone and we projected the different sections, and I would walk in and stand in front of the projection so that you could see what the size would be in relation to my height. So that’s all it was. Then we looked at it a bit, to make sure it was all there, and Bruce went home and put it together. And when I projected it, the illusion of a person being in the room was so strange... It was never intended as a work, and then it was so interesting. We did a little re-editing—shortening—to make it hold together a little better. But it was just a utilitarian project that was much more interesting than we expected. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Which is not the first time that’s happened for you.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — No. But it’s amazing. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Do you imagine <span class="artwork">Walks In Walks Out</span> being shown by itself?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Sure. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — It’s easier for me to imagine it projected in a room because then the viewer becomes a sort of double, right?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah, it’s just very strange, the illusion of this person coming right into the room. It was such a surprise. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Which is not what happens with <span class="artwork">Contrapposto Studies</span>, at all.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — No, it’s separate. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — It is separate. I went back to the conversation we had before the installation of the <span class="artwork">Studies</span> in Philadelphia, and there were a few things that were different in terms of what we foresaw would happen. You might remember that we had a lot of questions about the sound, and we were also concerned about the cone of light from the projectors casting shadows, which didn’t really happen.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — It really didn’t. It wasn’t ever an issue. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Were you surprised with any aspect of the installation?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — You used those directional speakers, which we hadn’t discussed, and that worked really well. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Yes, that was [museum audio-visual manager] Steve Keever’s suggestion.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — So that was an extra added attraction. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — You liked them?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah. I just hadn’t expected it or even thought about it. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — They became integral to the installation, and now they’re part of the work, too.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yes. It worked very well. And then the other thing—having the two rooms—the experience in each one was so different. That was very important, I thought—the quiet in the room with just the two projections. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Did you like the sequence that was established?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — I think it worked really well, the way you set it up. It’s just what was available, in a sense, but it worked well. So it’s a good model for anybody else who wants to install it. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Is that the configuration you would prefer when it’s installed in the future?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yes. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Do you like the fact that there’s a separation between the two rooms?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yes, because I thought maybe it would have been possible to project those two images on the end walls of the large room and have it all in one room, but I don’t think it would’ve been a good idea. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — It would be a very different feeling from how the two rooms worked.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah, I like that a lot. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — When we spoke before, we thought that the installation could end up working as a corridor, or that there could be a corridor defined by the cone of light of the projections on both sides of the large room, but it’s not like that.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — No, it’s not. I’ve been talking to Kathy [Halbreich] at MoMA about how they want to install things. They were trying to jam things in, so I said that it’s better to not do it at all than to try and stuff it into a place that doesn’t work. And they had some places where the corridors were narrow, and we just thought, better not to do it. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — In the installation you could get really close to the images without casting your shadow on them, and so they become very present in the space. And I saw a lot of people using the stools and spending time in the room and looking at each image individually. Just the other day I found a little packet of Dramamine—I don’t know if it was somebody’s contribution to the piece. Well, if you look at it for a while, you can get dizzy. If you really look.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah. [Laughs] <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — You also adjusted the sound of the different speakers, so there’s a different intensity to the sound as you walk through the large room.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — What did we do? <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — The sound is louder at the beginning and decreases slightly [toward the middle], and then it becomes louder again, but it’s not as jarring as I imagined.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Well, I think it has to do with the seven parts. There are forty-nine soundtracks, basically. It’s really dense, so it changes a lot. I don’t think we adjusted [the sound]—well, maybe we did. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — You did. There are the two large projections on one wall and three on the other, so because the speakers are directional, in the middle of the room you get the sound mostly from one projection, so it’s a bit lower, and you raised it.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah, it’s coming from one side and not the other side. That’s right, we did do that. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — The overall effect of the sounds is very different from Days, for example, where after a while you were really overwhelmed with the sound. In the Studies the sound never fully overwhelms you—the guards don’t complain! But then at the same time, when you move from the large room to the smaller one you feel a sense of relief.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Because it’s much quieter, and you can hear each sound instead of all the sounds. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Yes.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — The sound doesn’t have the kind of intensity that Days had. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — It’s totally different, no? In Days the sound was massively present, almost in your face. Here it feels like you’re allowed inside its texture.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — It’s around you. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — And you get inside the images as well.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Days was much more confrontational. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — It was more confrontational. But in this case, the sound gets inside you, too... Would you tell me about the relationship between the works shown in Philadelphia and in the exhibition at Sperone Westwater?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Well, basically I’m just dealing with the architecture that’s available, and so the scale is smaller, sizes are smaller, and I suppose an important difference is the first room, where the images are side by side instead of facing. That’s like the first time I showed it to Angela, when I thought it was finished with just two projections. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Do you mean only the two projections with four single figures each?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah, that’s what I imagined—single figures. Well, there are four figures, the negative and the positive. And then I went home, and over whatever number of years just started to cut and paste paper, and then try this and try that. So it’s all based on two [shots]—the front walking and the sideways tracking shot. So I really made it out of just those two shots. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — And you said you started cutting paper? That accounts for the collage you showed at the gallery. Did you make others?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — There are only a couple that I ever saved, but, yeah, I started just kind of pasting them together to see what it would look like. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — That’s interesting. So you started working with paper.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah. I just took screenshots and printed them out, cut ’em up to see what they’d look like. So there was a lot of editing to get the sizes and compress the figures to get a lot of the background out of the way. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Ultimately, the sequence of the projections in New York was set up so that you would first see the parts that in Philadelphia you would see last.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yes. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — And the last videos you saw in New York were those shown in the first room in Philadelphia.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah—what happens if you cut ’em up and cut ’em in half and turn ’em around, or whatever. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Was that intentional, the mirroring effect between the two sites?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yes. And I tried splitting the figure vertically, but it was too much like a mirror image. It drew too much attention to the sort of cuteness of it. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — But the decision of having the first shot repeated four times, that’s also a mirror.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah. I don’t remember how I figured out four, but I guess four because when we cut it down to the figure being important and getting rid of the background, then four of them would fill the screen size. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — And there’s an internal mirroring that seems to occur within the four images together.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — It’s all the same shot except that they start at different intervals. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — I was wondering about that. So there’s one shot where you’re simply walking straight, with your front or back facing the camera, and then there’s another shot walking from the side . . .</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Yeah, where he [Bruce Hamilton] tracks along. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — There are only those two shots for the entire work? That’s it?</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Well, we shot the one using rails two or three times, so he mixed those. The shot where I’m walking to him and turning away, I think he did that one with the zoom on his editing equipment, instead of tracking it forward and back, so it keeps my figure the same size. That was the whole point of my original thought—that instead of the figure going back and forth, getting bigger and smaller [as in <i>Walk with Contrapposto</i>, 1968], the figure would stay the same size and the room would appear to move. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — Which it does—the line of the horizon is fluctuating.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — That was to reverse the proposition of the original piece. <br> <i><br><u>CB</u> — To reverse the composition of the original piece.</i> <br> <br><u>BN</u> — Well, yeah. Because now the figure stays the same size and appears to move in place. That’s what started it all, just to see if we could do that. I think we did a couple of tests, again just using the iPhone, but then Bruce got his better Sony camera to give us a better quality image. <br><br><br> <aside class="notes">The text above is part of an interview that took place at Bruce Nauman’s home in New York in two parts: on May 4, 2016, before the installation of <i>Contrapposto Studies</i> at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at Sperone Westwater, New York, and on April 17, 2017, after these installations had come down, but before the installation of <i>Walks In Walks Out</i> in Philadelphia. The full interview will be published in <i>Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies</i> (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018).</aside>
Bruce NAUMAN <br><i>Contrapposto Studies, I through VII</i>, 2015-2016 <br>Seven HD video projections, sound (in loop) <br>Exhibition view, « Bruce Nauman: <br>Contrapposto Studies, I through VII » (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2016-2017)
Bruce NAUMAN <br><i>Walks In Walks Out</i>, 2015 <br>HD video installation (in loop) <br>Exhibition view, « Bruce Nauman: <br>Contrapposto Studies, I through VII » (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2016-2017)
 
Bruce Nauman’s <i>Three Heads Fountain (Three Andrews)</i> will be included in the artist’s traveling 2018 retrospective, first in Basel, at the Schaulager Museum, then in New York, at M<span class="ath-small">o</span>MA PS1.


<div class="col m-10 pull-right align-right"> <span class="lieu">M<span class="ath-small">o</span>MA PS1 /</span><br> <span class="lieu">New York</span> </div> <br> <br> <br> <br> <div class="col m-10"> <span class="title"><i>Three Heads Fountain</i></span><br> <span class="title"><i>(Three Andrews)</i></span> </div> <div class="col m-4 auteur pull-right noclick"> <div class="inner"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Text</a><br> <b>Lysandre Enanaa</b><br> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clear"><br><br><br></div> <div class="align-right"> <span class="lieu">Schaulager /</span><br> <span class="lieu">Basel</span> </div> <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Bruce Nauman’s <i>Three Heads Fountain (Three Andrews)</i> at first appears to depict a yellow creature joyfully spitting water into a basin, bringing to mind Jean Tinguely’s fantastical sculpture/fountains, created from 1925 to 1931. Proceeding around the basin along a narrow passageway to get a closer look at the fountain, suspended at eye level, the viewer realizes that the source of the water lapping in the basin is actually a composition of three identical male heads, suspended by their necks and fed by transparent tubes, covered in scars, pierced with streams of water. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Nauman regularly incorporates the human body—often his own—into his work: it is cast, molded, filmed, or photographed. To create a cast of a face, the model must breathe through tubes connected to his mouth or nose, which the artist occasionally decides to leave in place and integrate into the finished sculpture. In <i>Three Heads Fountain</i>, are the parenteral tubes that irrigate these heads sources of life, reinvigorating perfusions, or on the contrary vectors of death, of lethal injections? It’s impossible to tell. This machine, both morbid and poetic, takes a physical and psychological toll on the viewer. And that is exactly Nauman’s goal: to cause a malaise that prompts the viewer to reflect on existential questions. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span><i>Three Heads Fountain</i> was displayed in Venice on two occasions: in the American pavilion at the 2009 Biennale, as part of Nauman’s exhibition “Topological Gardens,” conceived in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art; then at the Punta della Dogana in 2011, in the exhibition “In Praise of Doubt” curated by Caroline Bourgeois.
Bruce NAUMAN <br><i>Three Heads Fountain (Three Andrews)</i>, 2005 <br>Epoxy resin, fiberglass, wire, plastic tubes, water pump, wood basin, rubber tarpaulin <br>25,4 x 53,3 x 53,3 (sculpture) <br>20,3 x 365,8 x 365,8 cm (basin)
 

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