Tate Modern

Bruce Nauman: Raw Materials

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Bruce Nauman
Raw Materials
Photo © Tate (Seraphina Neville)


Nauman’s audio sculpture fills the Turbine Hall with voices, some clearly audible, others indistinct, joined by new sounds made by visitors

Bruce Nauman has created innovative and highly influential works across a range of media, including video, sculpture, performance and neon. For Raw Materials, first shown as a Turbine Hall commission in 2004, Nauman selected twenty-one written or spoken texts from his past works, and put them together to create a sonic collage.

Rows of speakers create ‘bands of sound’ that run across the width of the empty Turbine Hall. Walking through the space, visitors encounter sound as if it were a physical, sculptural material. Nauman is fascinated by how our perception of an environment can alter our self-awareness and behaviour. In the past he has created empty rooms, corridors and cages that control and sometimes disorientate the visitor.

Language has always played a central role in Nauman’s works, many of which are based on word play. Removed from their original context, the individual texts and voices are treated almost as abstract elements, taking on new meanings as they are rearranged to become part of a single installation. Jokes, poems, pleas, greetings, statements and propositions merge into one another and shift in tone, sounding at turns playful or distraught, menacing or hypnotic.

Recording is not permitted. Copyright Bruce Nauman.

Curated by Valentina Ravaglia

Please note: This artwork contains intense and localised sound episodes. Hearing aid users may wish to adjust their volume control in the Turbine Hall to avoid discomfort around the speakers.


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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Bruce Nauman

born 1941

Bruce Nauman: Raw Materials

Find out more about the artist's career and his work for the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall