This summer, the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof
is presenting Bruce Nauman. Dream Passage, the first major exhibition of the American artist Bruce Nauman in Berlin. The exhibition is being held on the occasion of the installation of the spectacular architectural sculpture Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care from 1984, which was recently donated to the Nationalgalerie by the collector Friedrich Christian Flick. Thus the largest interior sculpture by the artist can now be exhibited in a permanent space, accompanying Double Cage Piece (1974), which has been exhibited in the exterior space of the Hamburger Bahnhof since 2005, and also comes from the generous donation by the collector. Close cooperation with the artist meant that this work, extreme in every meaning of the word, could be installed on a permanent basis in Hall 5 of the Rieckhallen. The sculpture is made of three intersecting corridors, and can be entered; it is without doubt the high point of a series of works called Dream Passage which was inspired by a dream of the artist.
An exceptional presentation of some outstanding examples of the artists experience architecture will be on show in the central hall of the museum. At the end of the 1960s, Nauman began constructing corridors and spaces that could be entered by visitors and which evoked the experience of being locked in, of being abandoned and of spatial uncertainty. The complex work Corridor Installation (Nick Wilder Installation) from 1970, where visitors are recorded by a video camera and then confronted with their own image, will also be exhibited. Corridor with Mirror and White Lights (1971) cannot be entered. Nevertheless, this work evokes the impression of the viewer getting closer to his or her own reflection in the mirror. In Kassel Corridor: Elliptical Space (1972), created for documenta 5, one viewer at a time may enter and stay for the maximum of one hour in order to experience this claustrophobic situation. In the subterranean ditches and tunnels that the artist created for Model for Trench and Four Buried Passages from 1977, the visitor must use his or her imagination to evoke the relevant spatial situation.
Explicit political connotations have been a major focus of Naumans work since the beginning of the 1980s, for example, in sculptures where hanging metal chairs are used like Musical Chair from 1983 illustrating the artists critique of torture and violence used in totalitarian regimes. Complex neon works like American Violence, 1981-82 or Sex and Death / Double 69, 1985 for their part explore the connections between sex, violence and death.
On the occasion of the exhibition Dream Passage, further works by Bruce Nauman are on display in the Rieckhallen of Hamburger Bahnhof; here they enter into dialogue with works from the museums collections by the artists contemporaries, like Robert Morris, Eva Hesse, Richard Jackson or Nikolaus Lang and younger artists like Absalon and Manfred Pernice.
At the end of the passage through the Rieckhallen, visitors encounter the sculpture Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care, which can be related to the experience architectures from the oeuvre of the artist, which are on display in the historical hall of the museum. The sculpture is also one of a total of five large-format works from 1983, 1984 and 1988 that constitute the series Dream Passage. Here, three corridors intersect horizontally and vertically, creating a special force field in the centre that raises the question of the desolation and isolation of the soulless human being. Nauman has created an existential space that brings to mind Samuel Becketts descriptions in the prose text The Lost Ones: Abode where lost bodies roam each searching for its lost one. Vast enough for search to be in vain. Narrow enough for flight to be in vain. Inside a flattened cylinder fifty meters round and sixteen high for the sake of harmony. The light. Its dimness. Its yellowness.
The exhibition benefits from the unique selection of works by the artist in the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, which have been lent to the Nationalgalerie. These are complemented by significant loans from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Tate Modern in London.