BRUCE NAUMAN, DREAM PASSAGE, HAMBURGER BAHNHOF, MUSEUM FUR GEGENWART | BERLIN
28 May – 10 October 2010
The exhibition, Dream Passage, presented by the National Gallery in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, is the first major retrospective in Berlin of the internationally famous American artist Bruce Nauman. It is being held in connection with the presentation of the spectacular architectural sculpture Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care from 1984, which was recently donated to the National Gallery by the collector Friedrich Christian Flick.
This work has now been installed, in close co-operation with the artist, in Hall 5 of the Rieckhallen, where it will be on permanent display. The exterior piece, Double Cage Piece (1974), has been exhibited outside Hamburger Bahnhof since 2005 and is also part of the large donation from Friedrich Christian Flick; now two major works by the artist are permanent exhibits in Berlin.
Since the middle of the 1960s, Bruce Nauman has worked with a diverse range of media; his extensive oeuvre includes sculptures, films and videos, photographs, neon works, prints, installations and vocal works. At the end of the 1960s, Nauman began constructing corridors and rooms that could be entered by visitors and which evoked the experience of being locked in and of being abandoned. Excellent examples of this “experience architecture” will be shown in the central hall of the museum, including the complex work Corridor Installation (Nick Wilder Installation) from 1970, where visitors are recorded by a video camera and then confronted with their own image. Corridor with Mirror and White Lights (1971), on the other hand, cannot be entered. This work nevertheless evokes the impression of the viewer getting closer to his or her own reflection in the mirror. In the elliptically shaped Kassel Corridor: Elliptical Space (1972), created for documenta 5, however, one viewer at a time may enter and stay for the maximum of one hour.
Explicit political connotations have been a major focus of Nauman’s work since the beginning of the 1980s. This is illustrated, for example, by sculptures where hanging metal chairs are used – Musical Chair from 1983 – illustrating the artist’s critique of torture and violence used in totalitarian regimes. Other examples are complex neon works like American Violence, (1981-82), or Sex and Death / Double 69, (1985), which examine the connections between sex, violence and death. Works, in which clowns play the main characters, and which initially seem harmless, deal with physical and psychological violence, like the complex work Clown Torture from 1987. In this multi-channel video work, the play of the clowns is transformed from the expected entertaining game into an unending act of direct and sinister aggression.
On the occasion of the exhibition Dream Passage, further works by Bruce Nauman are being exhibited in the Rieckhallen of Hamburger Bahnhof, where they create a dialogue with works from the museum’s collection by the artist’s contemporaries and younger artists like Robert Morris, Richard Serra, Eva Hesse, Richard Jackson, Dieter Roth, Manfred Pernice, Nikolaus Lang and Paul McCarthy.
An architectural sculpture, made from three interlinked corridors, Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care, is located at the end of the passage through the Rieckhallen in Halle 5. This is the highlight of a series of works inspired by one of the artist’s dreams, brought together under the title of Dream Passage and created in 1983, 1984 and 1988. The monumental sculpture, which has not been exhibited since its first presentation in the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1984, can be entered through two of the horizontal corridors. At the meeting-point of the corridors, a metal grid directs our glance downwards. Here the artist is interested in the experience of extreme, existential desolation, and attempts to invoke this through the experimental situation the work is offering. In his corridor works and architecture sculptures, Nauman provides spaces of experience that provoke questions about self-perception and about our own position in space and time.
For the first time a comprehensive reader is published to accompany the exhibition where thirty-one concepts central to the oeuvre of Nauman are elucidated. Furthermore, the publication contains a collection of philosophical, literary and scholarly texts that facilitate further analysis of the intellectual horizons of the artist and his contemporaries.