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REVIEWS

BRUCE NAUMAN, FAILING TO LEVITATE
IN THE STUDIO. 1966. BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPH, 20 X24 IN. I 2006 BRUCE NAUMAN/ARTIST RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK.

SAN FRANCISCO studio in Southampton, equipped, importantly, with one of the earliest consumer
video cameras, furnished by his New York dealer, Leo Castelli. Nauman was one of
A ROSE HAS NO TEETH: BRUCE NAUMAN IN THE 1960S the first artists in the country to use this new technology. Video, and in particular
UC BERKELEYART MUSEUM AND PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE the ability to record without assistance for an hour at a time, enabled him to
develop some of his most iconic performance pieces during this period. Many of
Walking around San Francisco, it was hard not to be aware of the current Bruce the Hamptons videos appear in the exhibition: Stamping in the Studio (1968),
Nauman retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. for example, a black-and-white video that shows Nauman performing the titular
Posters advertising the show were plastered all over the city, bearing the slogan "The action continuously over the course of an hour. In late 1969 Nauman left northern
sixties redefined America. Bruce Nauman redefined the sixties." PR hype aside, it's California for good. Still, his years in the Bay Area form a very particular period
undeniable that "A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s" is a show long in his career; one that includes not only many of the pieces now thought of as
overdue. It brings together more than 100 pieces spanning the years 1965-1970, canonically Nauman but also many of those made before the artist had perfected
including a large number of little-known artist books, drawings, photographs, his canonical Nauman. "A Rose Has No Teeth" provides insight into a moment in
and early collaborative films-several of which have never been exhibited before, which both Nauman's persona and his body of work were still more porous and
and some of which are previously unknown-as well as near-canonical sculptures, experimental than they became over the following decades.
neons, installations, and performance pieces exploring familiar Nauman themes Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the exhibition is the marked
like repetition, language, the body, endurance, and interior versus exterior. difference in tone and approach between solo Bruce-Nauman alone in his studio-
BAM/PFA promotes the show as "the first ever to focus on the years Nauman and social Bruce-Nauman collaborating with Bay Area artist friends and mentors
lived in the San Francisco Bay Area," which is a little misleading. Yes, Nauman like William Allan and William T. Wiley. Early collaborative films like Fishing
spent his formative years in northern California, first as a graduate student at UC forAsian Carp (1966), Smoke (1966), and Untitled(FlourArrangements) (1967)
Davis from 1964 to 1966, and later in San Francisco teaching sculpture at the San combine laconic humor with a kind of breeziness. "Breezy" not being an adjective
Francisco Art Institute. But it's safe to say that by 1968 he was starting to cut his readily associated with Nauman, these films are a nice surprise. When Nauman
ties to the Bay Area. Nauman spent the latter part of that year at Roy Lichtenstein's was alone in his studio, this carefree quirkiness often gave way to a terse and much

MAY2007 1 MODERN PAINTERS 97
REVIEWS

darker approach. "Funny as hell," someone once called Nauman, and that pretty painting. Inside are "sculpture remnants":
much sums it up. Pieces like SlowAngle Walk (Beckett Walk) (1968), for instance, in pieces of bandanna-covered planks,
which the artist performs a stiff, John Cleese-style walk, continuously swaying his two-by-fours, and sheets of drywall
legs up then back for an hour, beg one to question the function of humor in light of that become haphazardly arrayed bones
duration. In other words, when does the joke stop being funny and become painful? within the bag's wrinkled skin. The show
Some would argue the laughs taper off near the end of the time frame under also features a group of archival ink-jet
examination at BAM/PFA, when Nauman directs his assaults increasingly toward prints-images like the frowning arrows
the audience, exploring the outer limits of the artist-spectator relationship. Get Out found on an Amazon.com shipping
ofMy Mind, Get Out of This Room (1968), a small room filled only with the sound box-which the artist hung on Sheetrock
of Nauman's hoarse repetitive hissing of the words in the title, is a particularly panels that leaned against the gallery's
disturbing example. permanent walls. Giving this partial
One of the strongest undercurrents of'"A Rose Has No Teeth" portrays Nauman as architecture a sculptural weight, Ross-
a type of protopunk engaged in an intense investigation of failure, breakdown, and Ho cut notches and apertures into the
what can perhaps best be described anachronistically as slacker fatigue. Probably building material and inserted objects
the most literal work in this respect is the clownish photograph Failingto Levitate AMANDA ROSS-HO, MANTLE, 2007. INCISED into the openings (high-top sneakers
SHEETROCK, MOUNTED AND FRAMED ARCHIVAL
in the Studio (1966), but an attitude of dejection is equally present in his early LIGHT-JET PRINT, DIMENSIONS VARIABLE. PHOTO splattered with paint, a cushion shaped
ROBERT WEDEMEYER, COURTESY CHERRY AND
sculptures, smudged, repetitive, but going nowhere; in the fiberglass casts that MARTIN, LOS ANGELES. like a trout, and a small fish charm).
exude so much listlessness one suspects they'd rather be draped over a couch; and in The heavy, material quality of Ross-
the pointless boredom-induced repetition of the Southampton videos and the mental Ho's sculptures is offset by her smart
culs-de-sac of Nauman's puns. Seen in this light, it's hardly surprising his work has LOSANGELES play with negative space. Above the work
been an inspiration for many artists of the "Helter Skelter" generation and continues AMANDA ROSS-HO Mantle-a hole cut into the gallery wall
to be so for artists today. CHERRYAND MARTIN that exposed insulation and studs-the
Despite its many coups in landing important works, "A Rose Has No Teeth" shows artist hung an image of the earth printed
signs of the obstacles encountered by any small institution developing an ambitious Amanda Ross-Ho's recent show, "Nothin in photographic negative. The structural
show: some iconic pieces were simply not lent out (the 1967 FromHand to Mouth, Fuckin Matters," expanded on her ability interruption and the print engaged in
for example), and the show is traveling to just two other venues, only one of which is to create disparate unions, mixing in a pun-the hearth and the earth-that
in the US (the Menil Collection in Houston). Curator Constance Lewallen's careful her assemblages not only media but flaunts Ross-Ho's mischievous attention
selection compensates for obvious missing pieces by including studies and drawings; also unexpected formal and cultural to language, an essential milieu in which
the limited itinerary is more regrettable and should provoke some soul-searching. references (think John McCracken's her work operates. -CATHERINE TAFT
This show is one of the most important of the season: a rigorously researched and sensibility as interpreted by Punky
thoughtfully curated consideration of an impressive body of work. It deserves a Brewster, or Claes Oldenburg raiding a TIM HAWKINSON: ZOOPSIA
wider audience than those dogged enough to make the trek to Berkeley, Houston, or lumberyard) to create subtly rhetorical GETTY CENTER
Turin (at the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea). Not only is this early moves. SadSack (all works 2007) is a six-
protean Nauman compulsively addictive, but it is also exactly this body of work that foot-tall tote bag made from an oversize Tim Hawkinson's exhibition of new work
continues to influence contemporary practices today. -YASMINE VAN PEE canvas drop cloth used for commercial was inspired by both zoology and an
unconscious penchant for random visual
associations-a trait that Hawkinson
and animals apparently share. "Zoopsia,"
the exhibition's title, refers to the study
of visual hallucinations in animals. The
frenetic shapes and drippy lines in the
painting Dragon (2007) read as a tangle
of vines, but on further contemplation
the tea-colored surface yields the forms
of mythical animals engaged in an epic
struggle. The photographic collage
Octopus (2006) presents a tentacled sea
predator made from scanned pictures
of Hawkinson's hands and his own
(slightly disgusting) pink, puckered
lips. By contrast, the understated
handmade sculpture Leviathon (2007)
is a conceptual and visual pun. The
spinal columns and rib cage of what
appears to be an extinct species of fish
are reimagined as a bowed procession
of galley slaves, the long tapering ribs
forming the oars. The jawbone is formed
by the bent legs of an inverted male
figure whose head is nestled in toward
the body. Leviathon, while seeming
to be made of plaster, is made of the
quotidian craft supplies Sculpey and
Crayola Model Magic, inserting a bit of
humor into what would otherwise be a
dry, academic showdown between art
TIM HAWKINSON, OCTOPUS, 2006. PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLAGE MOUNTED ON FOAM, 7 FT101/2 IN X14 FTX21/2 IN. COURTESYTHE ARTIST, LOSANGELES, © 2007TIM HAWKINSON. and science. -SHANA NYS DAMBROT

98 MODERN PAINTERS I MAY2007
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TITLE: A ROSE HAS NO TEETH: BRUCE NAUMAN IN THE
1960S: UC BERKELEY ART MUSEUM
SOURCE: Modern Painters My 2007
PAGE(S): 97-8

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