Went with Miles yesterday to the exhibition of Bruce Nauman’s 1960s work, A Rose Has No Teeth, at the BAM (the title is a Wittgenstein reference, from the Tractatus: It is false that a goose has teeth, nonsensical that a rose should have teeth; non-intersecting language games yield nonsense, though syntax seduces us into thinking that a logical proposition is concealed in there somewhere).
In one small, empty room, opposing speakers leaked Nauman’s disembodied voice, hushed and garbled, intelligible words seeping out at intervals. Miles and I danced in circles to a-rhythmic ghost tones until the guard cast an admonishing glance our way.
At one point, a chair facing a sculpture. Miles looks up at me and asks, “Daddy, is it okay for me to go on this?” I answered, “Of course, it’s a chair!” He looked at it and then back at me. “Oh. I thought it was part of the artwork.” Poor pomo kid, confused by the boundaries between life and art before he’s had his first art history class.
Later, bought a copy of Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, back in print after 30 years. Grapefruit is a book of instructions and notes for conceptual performance pieces. Sat and read through some of the instructions with Miles tonight, including:
PAINTING FOR THE SKIES
Drill a hole in the sky
Cut out a paper the same size
as the hole.
Burn the paper.
The sky should be pure blue.
Prescribe pills for going
through the wall and have only
the hair come back.
Asked Miles if he could think of a performance piece. He came up with:
Turn a chicken into a ball and then the ball eats itself.
I think he “gets it.”