[NSFW] This Week’s Awful Porn Star Tribute to Bruce Nauman

by Corinna Kirsch on August 11, 2014 · 0 comments Opinion

In Bruce Nauman’s classic silent black-and-white film “Bouncing Balls” (1969), the artist fiddles around in the studio by bouncing around his own hairy balls. It’s a compliment to his other studio-based videos in which he bounced around rubber balls. For Nauman, anything lying around the studio could become fodder for a practice based in boredom and repetition.

Now that we live in an age defined by cultural response—everyone makes their own parody memes, YouTube spoofs, reaction videos, or likes Weird Al—it’s time someone show Nauman a little parody. This week, MOCAtv posted artist Francesco Vezzoli’s Bruce Nauman parody “The Return of Bruce Nauman’s Bouncing Balls,” to their artist projects channel on YouTube. If it’s a parody, it’s in name only.

In it, Francesco Vezzoli hired an oiled-up porn star to swing around his insanely large ball sack. Because wouldn’t it be funny—or something—if, instead of showing a totally normal person’s balls, we hired a porn star, then put him in a Romantic landscape set to Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21”? There’s not much in common with the original. While a minimal practice like Nauman’s centered around actual concerns of the day, namely the exploration of the body as potential for art, this parody embraces the neo-Baroque with bigger balls, exaggerated music, and a grandiose background.

I suppose “The Return of Bruce Nauman’s Bouncing Balls” should not be surprising coming from an artist known for “gross excess.” But that’s all that takes place in this video, which MOCAtv’s YouTube commentary describes as a “glamorous and satirical twist on Hollywood techniques.” Which has not a whit to do with Nauman, and is just an expression of contemporary art’s desire for “bigger is better.” We’ve got bigger museums, bigger sculptures, and now, bigger balls.

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