Bruce Nauman. Neons Corridors Rooms
Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan
September 15 2022 – February 26, 2023
Pirelli HangarBicocca will present a major exhibition dedicated to Bruce Nauman, one of the world’s most prominent living artists (from September 15, 2022, to February 26, 2023). Organized by Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London, and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the exhibition will provide an in-depth overview of Nauman’s spatial research and important experiments with architecture, light, sound, language and video over half a century.
The exhibition “Neons Corridors Rooms” gathers thirty works created since the second half of the 1960s that explore the most innovative dimension in the practice of Bruce Nauman (born Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1941; lives and works in New Mexico), with a focus on his spatial and architectural research. The exhibition draws attention to this specific aspect of the artist’s research that has been overlooked in the past years. In a career spanning over fifty years, Nauman has investigated the human condition and the deeper meaning of art-making, embracing a wide variety of different media -installation, video, sculpture, performance, photography, drawing, and sound -with a radical and pioneering attitude.
Covering over 5,000 square meters in the Navate gallery of Pirelli HangarBicocca, and also occupying other spaces, such as the Reading Room and the outdoor area, the exhibition brings together for the first time the various types of corridors and rooms, along with six neon pieces, five video and sound installations, and a selection of tunnels, Nauman’s sculptural models for underground architecture. Realized from the late 1960s, the corridors are structures designed by Bruce Nauman to manipulate, record, and test the viewer’s experience and movements within a space. Their architecture compels visitors to follow a path that is both physical and emotional, leading to a greater awareness of limitations and corporality. The exhibition outlines the early stages and development of this body of work, starting with the very first corridor created by the artist, Performance Corridor (1969).
The idea for this work came from a performance recorded in the video Walk with Contrapposto (1968)-also featured in the Milan exhibition-in which Nauman walks back and forth through a narrow passageway with exaggerated hip movements, imitating the contrapposto pose of classical sculptures. The following year, in 1969, for an exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York, the artist displayed the structure for this video as a walk-in sculpture, encouraging visitors to use it themselves. Until then, Nauman’s videos and performances had focused on his own presence and figure, with Performance Corridor the artist shifted his attention and research to the viewers, and the relationship they establish with the space around them.
“Neons Corridors Rooms” reveals how this practice has become a means for Nauman to experiment with space and the body in increasingly radical ways. The exhibition in fact investigates the different types of corridors that followed over the years, employing various shapes, sizes and modes of fruition.