Installing Nauman

March 10, 2011

During the past few weeks the second floor of BCAM has been undergoing the installation of the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection, opening this Sunday (and on view now for members).

The exhibition takes its name from Bruce Nauman’s neon art piece Human Nature/Life Death/Know Doesn’t Know, which is included in the show. A major effort on the part of our conservators, art installers and electrician has made it possible to put this large neon puzzle back on view after a hiatus of about ten years. Here’s how they did it:

A diagram of the complicated combination of words was drawn to serve as a guide for installation. The bottom layer of words is placed in a circular pattern, the middle layer forms an X, and the top layer is a Y configuration.

Conservators Don Menveg and Natasha Cochran (pictured) cleaned, maintained, and tested each one of the neon tubes that are the words which comprise this elaborate piece.

Posts made of glass will support the delicate neon tubes.

An instrumental part of the installation was the involvement of our very experienced electrician Roosevelt Simpson, who installed twenty-three transformers and tweaked the timer box that controls the cycling in which the words are lit in their original sequential cycle.

The first layer of words is installed.

Installing the top layer of words.

Testing to be sure the tubes light up and the cycles run correctly.

The finished artwork. Bruce Nauman, Human Nature/Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know, 1983, Modern and Contemporary Art Council Fund

 

Yosi Pozeilov, Senior Conservation Photographer