I found an odd and unsettling sense of serenity in that darkened room where the painted faced clown screamed at me. His repetitious impression of a spoiled child, supine, legs kicking in the air, his fists pounding the floor, screaming “No! No! No!” was, for some odd reason, comforting to me, in fact, enthralling. This video image looped on the silver screen, positioned flat against the wall, over and over again, his shining yellow and red striped satin paints, seeming to billow with every kick of his legs, and the white frill around his neck very old fashioned.
The walls of the room were black, so black they seemed to eat all light emitted from the projectors overhead and four small, nineteen inch tvs, two stacks of two, which projected the nightmarish images of painted faces and brightly colored gaudy outfits. Across the room from the paroxysmal clown, was the same clown, on a twelve foot by twelve foot silver screen, sitting on a toilet, his pants around his knees, fumbling with a newspaper, which kept falling from his hands. Wedged between the walls of a dirty public restroom stall, this clown shifted uncomfortably, constantly fumbling with a large newspaper, while the sounds of pedestrians entering the bathroom could be heard around him.
There was something soothing in those sounds.
I felt at home in the cinematographic lamp light, with the screams echoing through those darkened walls, images of brightly painted clowns, inundating me from all sides.
Bruce Nauman, what a genius?
There was something hypnotic about it, something confusing, yet enthralling. Fascinating, it was goddamn fascinating.
I wondered, what would it be like to walk into the Art Institue of Chicago, day after day, and sit in this room, bathed in the halogen lamp glow, watching screaming clowns. I wonder, would that be torture?