PRINT April 1995

Cast Against Type

THE FOLLOWING IS a public-service announcement: “The true artist,” reads a neon sign Bruce Nauman clicked on in 1967, “helps the world by revealing mystic truths.” Scripted in sky-blue lettering with a pink underline, the sign extends not horizontally from left to right, but in a spiral, hooking clockwise from inner to outer circle, as if it were unfurling like a maypole, spreading its apparent goodwill, its promise of enlightenment, in all directions. Wait, however, before you give Nauman a hug. Two years later, as a participant in a group exhibit at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, he executed a performance in which he stood in a corner of one of the galleries and bounced his upper body against the walls for an entire hour. Midway through the piece an audience member burst out sobbing and begged Nauman to stop. The world, it seems, was having serious second thoughts about the

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