Four Single Chairs

You’ll need to sit down if you are to watch Bruce Nauman’s Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) (2001), where six projectors each display six hours of footage that track the activities of mice, cats, and other creatures as they run through the artist’s work space.

”What triggered this piece were the mice. We had a big influx of field mice that summer in the house and in the studio … They were so plentiful even the cat was getting bored with them … I was sitting around the studio being frustrated because I didn’t have any new ideas, and I decided that you just have to work with what you’ve got. What I had was this cat and the mice, and I happened to have a video camera in the studio that had infrared capability. So I set it up and turned it on at night and let it run when I wasn’t there, just to see what I’d get … I thought to myself why not make a map of the studio and its leftovers … it might be interesting to let the animals, the cat and the mice, make the map of the studio. So I set the camera up in different locations around the studio where the mice tended to travel just to see what they would do amongst the remnants of the work.” [source: Bruce Nauman: Mapping the Studio I]

The reference to John Cage, in case you were wondering, is from an earlier work of Nauman’s, a telegram sent to the London gallerist Anthony d’Offay in response to a request for a work related to Cage. The telegram was misunderstood and was not exhibited; still intrigued by the expression ‘fat chance’, Nauman decided to reuse the words. [source: the Tate]


July 15th, 2019

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