Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)

For his film Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square, Bruce Nauman made a square with masking tape on the studio floor and marked the mid-point of each side. He then filmed himself as he stepped systematically around the perimeter of the square to the beat of a metronome, allowing the shape to guide his movements a half segment at a time.

The work is one of four Studio Films Nauman created during the winter of 1967–68, another of which includes Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square. In each of these films, Nauman used his body to explore movement, space, and the camera’s view in a variety of predetermined actions performed in the confines of his studio. Each film is approximately ten minutes long, the duration of one 16 mm reel of film.

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Nauman is recognized as a pioneer of video art and one of the most innovative artists in America. Since the mid-1960s, he has created a diverse body of work that includes sculpture, performance, installation, film, video, photography, and neon wall reliefs. About making his art, Nauman once said, “I think of it as going into the studio and being involved in some activity. Sometimes it works out that the activity involved making something, and sometimes that the activity is the piece.”

Artwork in the Exhibition

Bruce Nauman, American, b. 1941, Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (Square Dance), 1967-68, 16 mm film on DVD (black and white, sound), 10:00, Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.