Please Pay Attention Please: Bruce Nauman's Words: Writings and Interviews (Writing Art)

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9780262640602: Please Pay Attention Please: Bruce Nauman's Words: Writings and Interviews (Writing Art)

The most comprehensive collection to date of the artist Bruce Nauman's writings plus all of his major interviews from 1965 to 2001.

Since the 1960s, the artist Bruce Nauman has developed a highly complex and pluralistic oeuvre ranging from discrete sculpture, performance, film, video, and text-based works to elaborate multipart installations incorporating sound, video recording and monitors, and architectural structures. Nauman's work is often interpreted in terms of movements and mediums, including performance, postminimalism, process, and conceptual art, thereby emphasizing its apparent eclecticism. But what is often overlooked is that underlying these seemingly disparate artistic tendencies are conceptual continuities, one of which is an investigation of the nature of language.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Nauman has refrained from participating in the critical discourse surrounding his own work. He has given relatively few interviews over the course of his career and has little to do with the art press or critical establishment. Indeed, he granted Janet Kraynak and The MIT Press almost complete autonomy in the preparation of this volume. In contrast to Nauman's reputation for silence, however, from the beginning of his career, the incorporation of language has been a central feature of his art. This collection takes as its starting point the seeming paradox of an artist of so few words who produces an art of so many words.

Please Pay Attention Please contains all of Nauman's major interviews from 1965 to 2001, as well as a comprehensive body of his writings, including instructions and proposal texts, dialogues transcribed from audio-video works, and prose texts written specifically for installation sculptures. Where relevant, the texts are accompanied by illustrations of the artworks for which they were composed. In the critical essay that serves as the book's introduction, the editor investigates Nauman's art in relation to the linguistic turn in art practices of the 1960s -- understanding language through the speech act -- and its legacy in contemporary art.

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About the Author:

Janet Kraynak is a New York-based art historian.

From Publishers Weekly:

Nauman's eerily intuitive way of creating sophisticated, intellectually angular art out of simple gestures-a 10-minute film called "Bouncing Two Balls between the Floor and Ceiling with Changing Rhythms," for example, in which the artist does just that-builds fascination out of repetition's blandness. This set of collected writings is essential for anyone wishing to explore the ideas behind Nauman's practices, even if it duplicates much of the recent Art + Performance volume (Johns Hopkins, 2003) on Nauman and is nearly twice as expensive. Of the group of 19 artist's writings in this book, nine do not appear in the earlier volume on Nauman; one of these, a cheeky comment on "earth art," was intended to be skywritten and is a single line: "Leave the Land Alone." Nauman is mild and reticent as an interviewee, but nine of the 14 interviews here are exclusive to this book, and one-the extensive 1980 interview by Michele de Angelus-has never before appeared in complete form. The long introduction by Kraynak (Andy Warhol: Unique Prints from the Estate of Rupert Jasen Smith) is more satisfactory in its marshaling of basic semantic theory to explain Nauman's relationship to words, and his words' relationships to their contexts, but it lacks the cathartic insights one might expect in such a tight focus on his language. It also avoids the issue of Nauman's relation to other conceptual artists who use words extensively: she opts for Bakhtin and Benveniste, for example, over Ruscha or Holzer. Nauman courts extreme, even clinical, thinking, if only as a way to achieve practical and reliable experiences in art, as when Nauman comments on his use of puns: "I think humor is used a lot of the time to keep people from getting too close. Humor side-steps and shifts the meaning." So do these pieces, but that may be the point.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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