NOVEMBER 1, 2020 - NOVEMBER 27, 2020
In his black-and-white film, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square, Bruce Nauman does just that.
Placing one foot in front of the other, he walks forwards and backwards, with a pronounced swinging of his hips, around the edge of a square of masking tape affixed to his studio’s concrete floor.
The silence of his studio is broken only by the rapid clicking sound made by the rolling film, which calls attention to the camera itself. Rather than ensuring that it follows his movements, the artist leaves the camera fixed in one place. As a result, he sometimes disappears off-screen as he treads the parts of the perimeter outside of the camera’s frame.
Nauman made Walking early in his career and at a time when the notion of turning the camera exclusively onto oneself was still relatively new.
During this period, he and many other artists were increasingly broadening the definition of art by incorporating themselves and the activities and materials of daily life into their work.
While the film may seem simple on its surface, with it, Nauman broke with the conventions of film, television, and art making itself. It offers little narrative or illusion; what’s more, it takes viewers into a space they would not typically see: the private realm of the artist’s studio. Walking is based on a premise Nauman developed shortly after completing his MFA, in 1966, which underscores all of his work:
“If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.”