Monday, December 04, 2006

Kentridge and Nauman

Yesterday while I was drawing I listened to this amazing podcast: it was a lecture by William Kentridge at MOCA- you can find it on this page.

In the middle of the lecture Kentridge, who is from South Africa, talks about Bruce Nauman's early videos.

Still from Nauman's Slow Angle Walk

Kentridge says:

"And they're very interesting and they're very minimal. They're kind of minimal pieces of film. They're filmed in the studio and the studio, Nauman's studio, is the backdrop to the film. And the films consist of activities such as walking around a square. Or walking in contraposto, step to step...And they're- for me they're strangely challenging films in the sense that they're so little, there's so nothing in them. And so the question for me was were they enough in themselves, or did they need the whole aura of Bruce Nauman in order for them to have a kind of validation? And this was particularly interesting as someone who's not American, who's not from North America and comes very much from what would be the periphery of the art world rather than the center. And it was a question of whether if you have enough arrogance and self confidence and you're living in the center and you have the whole center, the might of America and the might of the art world behind you..Can you do things which in other places would be seen as so banal they would fall off the table? But, you know, we're big and we're mean and we do what we like and that's it. If you don't like it, um...

And I think there is. I mean, one of the strains of Bruce Nauman is an aggression. He's a kind of JP O'rourke figure. I know that he's not conservative in himself, but the way the work has to work in the world, um...has to work in a very gung-ho, we're the boss of the world manner. "

He makes several more very interesting points about the films and his own work, and then at the end of the talk he returns to Nauman.

"And then at a certain point I came to the question I had asked about Bruce Nauman. Was it enough to have these, just these, banal fragments. Was there...And I kind of realized that for myself it wasn't. It needed...Somehow I needed to have a narrative heart. One fragment that had somewhat more solidity. That could kind of anchor the other pieces. Whether it was in fact necessary or not I'm not so certain but it had to do with a psychological anxiety about saying it's not enough just to leave all these minute fragments..."

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