On 17th November 2017, I was, like a moth, instantly attracted to the bright lights of the Bruce Nauman exhibition (Tate Modern). His work demanded the viewer to (literally) take a step back and consider the purpose and context of his work. Nauman's extensive and imaginative use of media transmits a multitude of different ideas simultaneously. It is clear that his previous studies in Mathematics and Physics informed his practice and are a domineering influence on his work. One piece which caught my attention was 'Violins, Violence, Silence' (1981).
Violins, Violence, Silence
The artwork itself was made of coloured neon tubing with a clear glass suspension frame. As the letters overlap, it is hard to initially distinguish what the piece is actually conveying, proving rather disorientating. Additionally, the buzzing noise which accompanies the piece (originating from the neon tubing) is somewhat distracting. However, it is ironic that while reading 'violins' evokes a pure and unpolluted noise, in reality you are faced with a low, droning buzz. I enjoy the irony of Nauman's work and the complex ideas which lie behind the lights. There is much more to this piece than is initially apparent and I hope that other visitors to the gallery take the time to consider its complexity.
Another piece in the exhibition which caught my attention was 'Raw Material Washing Hands'(1996). The video, which documents one individual washing their hands constantly for 55 minutes is difficult viewing. It is reminiscent of a person suffering from obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) in which the individual is performing a routine repeatedly, as though it were a ritual. The video becomes painful to watch as we see the individuals skin being overworked by the soap and water and I must admit that although the video runs for just under an hour, I watched it for no longer than 10 minutes.
Raw Material Washing Hands,
After seeing Nauman's work, it is clear that he questions and stretches the boundaries of what it is to make art. He has purposefully left behind traditional notions of 'fine art' and has distanced himself from paint as a medium.
IN SEARCH OF MEDIEVAL INSPIRATION: PART 5(iv)
Figure 64 shows a detail of a devil (with horns) in a boot that comes from the excellent 15th century rood screen at Gateley Church. The man holding the boot is Saint John Schorne (a lesser known English saint who was not officially canonized) and the colour is original (Fig. 65). The devil may represent gout, which Schorne, a clergyman, is said to have been able to cure.
Fig. 66 Fig. 67
Fig. 68 Fig. 69
Fig. 70 Fig. 71
Figures 66-71 show the original 15th century colour from figures from the rood screen at Gateley Church.
Figures 72-75 show 14th century glass from the north aisles windows at North Elmham Church.
Fig. 76 Fig. 77
Fig. 78 Fig. 79
Finally, I re-visit Norman fonts with three further examples. The first comes from South Wootton (Figs. 76-79 – facing south, east, north and west, respectively), which Morlock and Roberts described as ‘stupendous … it stands on eight columns round a centre shaft, and the carved bowl has a huge and fearsome mask at each corner’ (1985: 121) or ‘angry eyes at each corner’ (Harrod & Linnell, 1966: 83) (Fig. 80).
Fig. 81 Fig. 82
Fig. 83 Fig. 84
Fig. 86 Fig. 87
The second comes from Castle Rising (Figs. 81-84 – facing south, east, north and west, respectively), with three animal masks on the west face (Fig. 85 (detail) and interlacing patterns. I also show two corner heads (Figs. 86 & 87).
Fig. 88 Fig. 89
Fig. 90 Fig. 91
The third comes from Burnham Norton (Figs. 88-91 – facing south, east, north and west, respectively). This a large font on four short legs with different designs on each face (Figs. 92 & 93, for example).
Fig. 92 Fig. 93
Figure 94 shows the Burnham Norton font in situ.
Harrod, W. & Linnell, C.L.S. (1966) Shell Guide to Norfolk (Faber & Faber).
Mortlock, D.P. & Roberts, C.V. (1981) The Popular Guide to Norfolk Churches 1: North –East Norfolk (Acorn Editions).
Mortlock, D.P. & Roberts, C.V. (1985) The Popular Guide to Norfolk Churches 3: West and South-West Norfolk (Acorn Editions).