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Bruce Nauman, but not on citizenship.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

As a final post on flaneurship and neon lights in the city landscape, I chose to write about  Bruce Nauman. This might seem confusing, because his works are usually displayed in a gallery or a museum, quite isolated from the busy city environment that was my starting point for the first post.

Nauman made some installations with neon light, some containing text, others consist of images only. I chose these three examples from the mid-eighties (One Hundred Live and Die, 1984, Seven Figures, 1984, Mean Clown Welcome, 1985) for the more or less brutal messages they communicate.  I still don’t know what the medium neon in itself expresses. This needs a more elaborate research. I’ll try to give a short comparison between Nauman’s work and the neons in Vegas. Comparing these two types of neon signs arise questions about this romanticist (yet uncanny) idea of a flaneur who gets sucked into a dreamworld of lights in the city. The common divider between these works of Nauman and for instance the neon signs in Las Vegas is immediacy. Both types of signs are attacking the viewer, but the effects are parallel reversed to one another. Nauman plays with a system of repulsion, while in a competitive commercial context (such as Las Vegas), neon signs would rather be used to evoke attraction. Still, I think both have to do with desire. -naum-8

keyword: neon

2 Responses to “Bruce Nauman, but not on citizenship.”

  1. Tessel Schole Says:

    his work is so nice, very informative manner of writting!

  2. admin Says:

    One of the first works ever made by Nauman in 1967 was the The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths written in a spiral neon sign and hung in a shop window where such signs were common but generally advertising alcoholic drinks. Nauman’s explanation for this work was “I was just wondering out loud. I needed to see it visually to see if I believed it. … When you are starting out, you are naturally asking a lot of questions, and some of them are very tough. The things that you can’t answer are sometimes the things you should be putting out there.”

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