The colloquial term mindf*ck is not regularly a positive term. I mean really, does anyone ever want someone to intentionally manipulate and play with your mind? There are always the exceptions, but collectively speaking the answer is NO. Well, in these exceptions lies Bruce Nauman’s current exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, fittingly titled “Mindf*ck.” There are no words in the English language to describe this magnificent exhibition, other than “what a mindf*ck that was.” As much as i was in awe – here are some words about my experience, and while they may seem very powerful, the power is truly experiencing this show.
Bruce Nauman incorporates psychoanalytical theory throughout the gallery and in his artworks. His intentions are to evoke the viewers with certain “states of trauma, equivalent to the conversion symptoms of the hysteric, to the utterances of the psychotic, to the repetition compulsion tied to the death drive, to the reprimands of the superego, to good and bad internal objects, and to the logic of dreams,” according to his press release. A word of advice before going, do your research-read up on Jung and Freud. I can assure you it will make you appreciate Nauman’s exhibition 1000x times more.
The large windows of Hauser & Wirth, which usually allow the natural light to pour into the white space, have been closed off. This allows the gallery not only to show off the neon light art pieces, but also create a new enclosed environment – an environment of unknowing, darkness – a structure allowing us to explore our human unconscious. The juxtaposition of the dark space, illuminated by neon artwork, puts stress on the eyes and gives off feelings of comfortableness that then turn into something not knowing what to expect. This uncomfortableness is what I think Nauman was attempting to do. As an artist, he is a mindf*cker, manipulating us to experience things we might have not wanted to experience and explore.
Every piece of work from “Good Boy, Bad Boy,” to “Carousel,” to “Sex and Death/Double 69,” and “Run From Fear, Fun From Rear” plays with our minds and encapsulates his attempt to yoke “together the rational and the intuitive, the verbal and the unutterable, the abstract and the physical.” But the most striking, and moving piece within the gallery in my view is “Untitled (Helman Gallery Parrallelogram).”
This interactive piece invites the viewer to walk into a room lit entirely by green florescent lights. As one walks closer and closer to the entrance, the purpose built corridor literally shrinks in width forcing the viewer to have to squeeze into the awkwardly small space in order to get into the room. This creates an unsettling feeling of claustrophobia and mimics the fear of tapping into one’s own unconscious to discover the internal desires, and thoughts we try and suppress (told you Freud would be helpful here)! After entering the room, the space is quite large. The green lights are unsettling, and make you feel extremely not at ease, like you’ve been stripped bare and those internal desires and thoughts of yours have become exposed to you and the world. Contradicting that feeling, emotions are simultaneously aroused through feeling a sense of relief through being in this euphoric space. This experience is extremely overwhelming.
Inspiring. Fresh Show. Bruce Man, you KILLED IT! FABULOUS.
Literally the best mindf*ck experience you’ll ever have!
Peace Out, K