Dia:Beacon was a very unique experience. The museum felt simultaneously exclusive and very tangible. It seemed interactive in terms of the openness and way we were able to interact with large open spaces, and artworks within those spaces. However, it also seemed exclusive and a bit pretentious at points, but that did not take away from the overall experience.
My favorite part of my visit to Dia:Beacon was Bruce Nauman’s works located in the basement. There was an ominous feel throughout the entire space that made me feel uneasy but also curious to what could be looming around every corner and space.
Ultimately, the role of the viewer/spectator was essential in understanding Nauman’s intentions. As stated in Art Since 1900, Nauman was fascinated by “the disseminating role of mirror reflections once the very notion of center (of identity, of self) is suspended” (Foster, et al, 582). We are thus called to question our own purpose and distance. This was certainly true, as with Nick Wilder Corridor (1970). In this piece, there was a certain level of interaction between everyone viewing the work. We got to witness one person on a TV screen, who was walking through one narrow passageway, while they were unable to see us in the screen from another. It took us a bit of time to figure out how this worked, but once we did we informed other classmates who also got to partake in the process. This made me consider the role of the individual and the collective. I immediately thought back to Marta Minujín’s Menesunda Reloaded at the New Museum. There we also were able to watch ourselves on screen, this time, walking up stairs. We were instructed to enter one at a time and wait until a person had entered the other part of the display before we circled back to walk up the stairs a second time. As I was doing so, I was aware of everyone who could see me from the outside, waiting in line for their part in the experience. There was a sense of insider perspective versus outside knowledge. I felt the same way in Nauman’s exhibition. This made me consider how it feels to even view works in “traditional” museums, and everyone interacting within these spaces as well.
The role of the viewer was also prominent in Body Pressure, (1974). There was a single poster on the wall and a stack of posters on the floor, as if it were a sculpture. I was preoccupied with trying to read and make sense of the poster on the wall that I paid little attention to the stack of posters. It was only when an employee said we were welcome to take a poster that I realized how interactive even this aspect was. As I understand it, the viewer, and specifically the body of the viewer becomes an essential part of bringing life to the art piece.
With Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), (2001) and Nick Wilder Corridor (1970,) I kept hearing a static sound, which reminded me of the Mika Rottenberg exhibition at the New Museum because the sound seemed to follow me throughout the exhibition. The subtlety yet noticeable sound was something I found myself focused on throughout my time there. This section of the exhibition seemed the most eerie to me. The lighting influenced a feeling of nervousness and even claustrophobia within the space.
There was also a level of humor and absurdity in Nauman’s work. For instance, Indoor Outdoor Seating Arrangement, (1999) seemed strange at first. It was just a set of bleachers facing another set outside. When I considered the motif of the mirror, in Nauman’s work, it put it into a larger and more understandable context. Hanged Man, (1985) was also humorous and ironic. It seemed to also play with the notion of duality and multiple perspectives.
I thought the Nauman aspect of Dia:Beacon was curated in an extremely clever manner that created a fun and unique experience.