11 Sep 2023 / 02 Jun 2023

Bruce Nauman: His Mark

SITE SANTA FE presents His Mark, Bruce Nauman’s first solo exhibition in New Mexico which will include new and recent video installation, 3D video, and self-portrait work which has never been exhibited before. Since the 1960s, Bruce Nauman’s work has questioned the very nature of what constitutes art and being an artist. He is known for making his body—his hands in particular—the object of his work and a tool for exploring the relationship between language and meaning.

His Mark explores spaces between the intimate and the historical through the 3D video installation His Mark (2021) and two related works, the single-channel video projection Practice (2022) and the single-channel 3D video projection Spider (2021). The reoccurring X gesture echoed in each work has nuanced autobiographical and historical origins. Inspired in part by Treaty 7, a controversial 1877 land treaty between the Canadian government and Isapo-Muxika, the chief of the Siksika peoples at that time, Nauman’s somber, repetitious gesture underscores the mournful implications of loss and subtly signifies its rippling impact.

Shown alongside this series is a new work, Self Portrait at 80 (2022). Nauman often returns to earlier works or materials, recontextualizing or reconfiguring them, and in the process arrives at new meanings. Self Portrait at 80, shown publicly for the first time in this exhibition, repurposes the 2018 video Walking a Line. For this new iteration, Nauman reverses all the parameters: the color is removed, the motion is reversed but the soundtrack is not, and the projected 3D image is flipped back-to-front and front-to-back. The result is an inversion of the spatial relationships among the objects pictured: the artist amidst various items in his studio, a perennial Nauman subject.

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1941, Bruce Nauman received his BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1964) and his MFA from the University of California, Davis (1966). Nauman is widely regarded as among the most important living American artists and as a catalyst for the shift in international artistic practice toward conceptual and performative uses of language and the body.

Since his first solo gallery show in 1966, Nauman has been the subject of many notable museum exhibitions, including a survey organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1972-73) and a survey at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Basel and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1986-87). A major retrospective, co-organized by The Walker Art Center and the Hirshhorn Museum, opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Kunsthaus Zurich (1993-95).

Other important solo exhibitions include “Raw Materials,” commissioned for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (2004); “A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s” at the Berkeley Art Museum, Castello di Rivoli, and Menil Collection (2007-08); and “Bruce Nauman” at the Fondation Cartier (2015). “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” a comprehensive retrospective, debuted at Schaulager, Basel (2018) and traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, New York and MoMA P.S.1 (2018-19). In 2020, Tate presented a survey that traveled to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2021), M Woods, Beijing (2022), and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2022-23).

In May 2021, Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana opened “Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies,” which was on view until November 2022. Nauman received the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts in 1993, the Wexner Prize in 1994, the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the Praemium Imperiale in 2004 in Japan. Nauman represented the United States at the 2009 Venice Biennale; the pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Nauman was the 2014 laureate of the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize. Since his first exhibition at Sperone Westwater in 1976, Nauman has exhibited regularly at the gallery (1982, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2020 and 2022).