Bruce Nauman, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), Jan. 10-July 27, 2002, at the Dia Center for the Arts, 535 West 22nd Street, New York, N.Y 10011.
Give a Bruce Nauman opening, as the Dia Center did last Wednesday evening, and they will come.
We spotted Agnes Gund, Tom Sachs, Jerry Saltz, Peter Schjeldahl, Robert Storr, Lawrence Weiner and cool Bruce himself wandering in the dark shadows of Dia's pristine North 22nd Street pod.
The piece, a mimesis of John Cage's various immersions in time/space, consists of four quizzical vidwalls of Nauman's Southwest studio shot in real time in shimmering grays reminiscent of Michael Snow's Wavelength.
Roaming Nauman's studio, full of empty, shattered bric-a-brac and his signature heads, are several mice and a cat.
In the center of Dia's gallery are half a dozen high-backed office chairs on casters. By sitting on one of these chairs and propelling oneself across Dia's exquisite stone floors (wheeee!), one can become one of the animals in Nauman's popular entropy machines and achieve the illusion of really being in Bruce's studio.
Like his alchemical equivalent Samuel Beckett, Nauman argues one big thing: Joy =Despair, and this piece is his best effort yet at seducing us into his desolate trip.
A solid hour, swimming in the charcoal glissando of Naumania feels like taking Prozac while on LSD.
You notice every little detail, and yet it's so very mellow, fella, isn't it?
Those mice, they move so fast, they're really breeding and acting much quicker than us all the time, aren't they?
And the random, broken objects littering the broodio soon take on the alienation and mystery of classic de Chirico.
I really can't wait to go over there again. I'm so haunted by it all.
For the first time since he shot water out of his mouth, Nauman makes everyone's inevitable disappearance seem pleasing, if not sexy.
It's just the chill pill us deeply wounded New York arties need after Sept. 11.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).