Week 7: MoMA part 1 Bruce Nauman ‘Disappearing Acts’

Fortuitous timing to be able to visit MoMA while in New York for another reason. Entering such a huge multi-story building with an enticing sculpture garden courtyard it was difficult to know where to start.

Sarah Newton 2018, Approaching MOMA

Glimpsing the sculptures on entry, the top to bottom approach won. Bruce Nauman’s ‘Disappearing Acts’ cried out for interaction despite the intentions of the artist (born 1941) to show withdrawal and loss over time. Not only did I find myself wanting to appear in a box but also found someone inside what looked to be an impossible narrow wooden curved wall.

Bruce Nauman 1981, Model for Underground Tunnel Made from Half Circle, Half Square and Half Triangle. Cardboard, string, wire, oil enamel, electrical tape, spray styrofoam, and wood. The Menil Collection, Houston
Bruce Nauman 2018, Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Another installation, albeit easy to walk past instantly connected in my mind with some of the internal shots I have made while pursuing recycling locations.

Bruce Nauman 1966, Untitled (Model for a Room in Perspective) Fiberglass and polyester resin Kuntsmuseum, Basel. Purchase
Sarah Newton 2018, White Hole Black Circle









In essence Nauman seems to have achieved an intention set out on a wall of the gallery:

Bruce Nauman, Description of artists’ intentions, Exhibition at MOMA, New York, November 2018

Some installations did not appeal to me (although they did to my companions). Perhaps my senses were over sensitive that day. They included columns of neon signs each pairing the word die or live with others, some emotionally charged, some seemingly random attachments, and a room full of plain rectangles suspended between floor and ceiling each of which transmitted a spoken word: a day of the week. Entering this room ears were faced with a cacophony of different voices simply naming a day. Even reading the accompanying titles and notes did not help me, I was just glad to get back to a place without a barrage of sound and flashing neon. 

Bruce Nauman 2018, Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Bruce Nauman 2009, Days. Stereo audio files, speakers, amplifiers, and additional equipment. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

However, Nauman’s other works apparently depicting Henry Moore as encased and outlined in flashlight circles, plans for four circular trenches as well as what I initially thought could be lines in circles perhaps representing a marked-out sporting game in a gym (my interpretation) caught my attention. The first was a time-lapse photograph, the second a huge suspended installation and the third tape stuck on the wooden gallery floor. Circles or holes are appearing more and more in my images as I work on my project Event Horizons and I am instantly drawn to inspect the ways others are using this shape.

Bruce Nauman 1967, Light Trap for Henry Moore, No. 1. Black -and-white photograph. Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland
Bruce Nauman 1977, Model for Trench and Four Buried Passages. Plaster, fibreglass, and wire. Glenstone Museum. Potomac, Maryland
Bruce Nauman 1973-75, Cones Cojones. Taped-and-glued typewriting on two sheets of paper, with tape installation on floor. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased

What did I learn from his work? Planning with detailed calculations, working with collaborators on construction and presentation and above all not being afraid to experiment with materials and ways of making that do not appear to be conventional methodologies. The latter clearly has resonance with my Final Major Project as I am still creating and making and encouraged in each tutorial to continue with experimentation; I guess until the answers or conclusions start to emerge….

NAUMAN, Bruce. 2018. ‘Disappearing Acts’.  Available at: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3852 [accessed 26/11/18].

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