Bruce Nauman’s fascination with language is central to his artistic output and this is an area which he will continue to explore in this commission. Influenced during his earlier career by the writer Samuel Beckett and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nauman has continued to explore the possibilities of language in works ranging from purely acoustic explorations of the rhythms of speech to visually powerful neon text pieces.
Nauman believes strongly that art has a social function. He has stated that he is motivated by frustration with the human condition and he uses words and the device of repetition to explore both this and the role of art. In the video installation World Peace 1996, a diverse cast of actors endlessly rehearse the words ‘We’ll talk – They’ll listen / You’ll talk – We’ll listen / They’ll talk – You’ll listen’. Characteristically, the meaning of the work remains ambiguous and the viewer is left to ponder the true nature of the international dialogue so familiar from summit conferences, as well as human communication in general.
For the Turbine Hall Nauman has created a fascinating and provocative sound work which engages visitors as they progress through the space.