Bruce Nauman @ Hauser & Wirth

Tucked away in a seemingly quiet, respectable corner of Mayfair lies one of the Hauser & Wirth galleries. One would expect to find to find discreet, demure paintings, something to hang above the coffee table or in the hallway. The Hauser & Wirth gallery has other ideas. They are presenting its public with the garish bright lights of Bruce Nauman installations and I can’t say I’m at all upset by this.

Stepping off the streets into a dimly lit gallery we are confronted with Carousel, 1988, what looks to me like a giant washing line, dragging parts of animal carcasses round the neck in circles. For some reason it reminds me of images of greyhounds at the races. It should be shocking but somehow I don’t seem to mind. Maybe because the poor animals represented have already met their end it is not so distressing? Who knows, the exhibition title ‘Mindfuck’ is appropriate though.

Also in the gallery is a purpose built room, entitled Untitled, 1971, presumably because their is nothing inside. Viewers make their way through an extremely narrow corridor into a glowing green room which I don’t see many people being able to fit through though nobody else seems to have commented on this. This space is in a vast contrast to the dim lights of the rest of the gallery and is somewhat eery in its clinical blankness.

On leaving the glowing chamber the homoerotic image of Death/Double “69”, 1985 is staring us in the face with the flashing image of two men engaging in the act of fellatio. Round the corner is the largest and most intriguing work Good Boy, Bad Boy, 1986-7. This is made up of 100 repetitive neon phrases which flash up in rainbow colours as if part of a chant: I LOVE, YOU LOVE, THIS IS LOVE. The colourful nature of the piece draws you in and makes you question its semiotics and Nauman’s use of language and words.

‘Mindfuck’ manages to draw the viewer in where it really ought not to. I should have been appalled by what I saw but I was intrigued and wanting to see more. In my opinion, the one roomed exhibition was too small! The compact display of work speaks volumes and is definitely an experience. Brash, crude and full of sex, this is not for the overly sensitive.

Bruce Nauman: Mindfuck is on display at Hauser & Wirth Savile Row until March 9

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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