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Bruce Nauman - Extract From the 'Studio Reader'

Bruce Nauman - Extract From the 'Studio Reader'

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Published by Kovalev Andrey

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Published by: Kovalev Andrey on Dec 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Bruce Nauman
Setting a Good Corner
When I was making that piece [
The Artist Is an Amazing Luminous Fountain
,1967] originally and then thinking about it later, people, a lot o people, werethinking about how to structure time. John Cage was making dierent kindso ways o making music and Merce [Cunningham] was structuring dance indierent kinds o ways. And then Warhol was making flms that went on or along period o time. And Steve Reich and La Monte Young were making musicthat was structured in a very dierent way. So it was interesting or me to havea lot o ways to think about things. And one o the things I liked about some othose people was that they thought o their works as just ongoing. And so you
Bruce Nauman, stills rom
Setting a Good Corner (Allegory and Metaphor),
   B  r  u  c  e   N  a  u  m  a  n
could come and go and the work was there. There wasn’t a specifc duration.This thing can just repeat and repeat and repeat, and you don’t have to sit andwatch the whole thing. You can watch or a while, leave and go have lunch orcome back in a week, and it’s just going on. I really liked that idea o the thing just being there. The idea being there so that it became almost like an objectthat was there, that you could go back and visit whenever you wanted to.In
Setting a Good Corner 
, we’re building a corner to stretch a ence andhang a gate. It had a real purpose in the ranch here. I needed to do this. Butat the same time, it made a beautiul structure. . . . My partner—Bill Riggins atthe end o the tape—I showed him the tape, and he said, “Boy, you’re going toget a lot o criticism on that because people have a lot o dierent ways o do-ing those things.” So I put down some o the things that he said, about keep-ing your tools sharpened and not letting them lie on the ground where theyget hurt or get abused and dirty and you can’t fnd them. And some thoughtsabout how his ather used to do things. How these things—i you grow up withthem—you learn them in one way.I wasn’t sure when I fnished it i anybody would take it seriously. It turnedout to be kind o interesting to watch. I gave a certain amount o thought to howI set up the shot and then ater that. . . . That’s not an uncommon way or artiststo proceed. What makes the work interesting is i you choose the right ques-tions. Then, as you proceed, the answers are what’s interesting. I you choose
the wrong questions, you still get a result, but it’s not interesting. So that’s inthere. I think I learned some o that rom Sol LeWitt, who does a lot o that. Hebuilds a structure that you have to work with, and the work could come outdierent every time. But i you ollow the structure, it’s interesting, sometimesbeautiul and sometimes just interesting.Well, that’s the art part and that’s what you don’t know. That’s the hard part.Sometimes the question that you pose or the project that you start turns intosomething else, you know, but at least it gets you started. And sometimes youfnish and you look at it and say, “I got a bad result; I don’t like what came outhere.” And so you have to start over or change it somehow.I mean i the ence is going to last it has to be done well. And so you wantto do a good job. Other cowboys and ranchers are going to come around andthey’ll see it and they’ll say, “Well, that—that’s a good one.” Or, “That’s not agood one.” It’s when you go to work at somebody else’s place and the gatesall work, or you have to get out o the truck, or o your horse, and drag themaround and make a lot o extra work or yoursel because nobody wants tospend the time to fx them up and make them work better. I have a lot o otherthings to do, so i I’m going to do it, I’d like to get it right so that when I have touse it, it’s just there and it’s useul and usable and I’m not wasting time with alot o extra baling wire and stu, patching it every once in a while.You have to adjust yoursel to it because it’s hard work. And so you adjust

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