Down into someone else’s body feet first

The Hudson River at Harrison Street (Pellucid Double Vision, Mind And Body, Theirs And Mine) ©MAIERMOUL
The Hudson River at Harrison Street (Pellucid Double Vision, Mind And Body, Theirs And Mine) ©MAIERMOUL

Bruce Nauman and I were testing the video monitor we’d mounted high in a corner. It was running a video he had done that consisted of him walking back and forth in his studio, playing the notes D, E, A, D, over and over on a violin.

No, he didn’t know how to play the violin, as the awkward screeches he produced proved. And yes, it was tedious to watch him repeat this effort over and over with the same result–

although I must say, I don’t mind being bored for twenty minutes if it gives me something to think about for twenty years.

That a visual artist was making music– a genre normally outside the realm of visual art making– and that he made no effort to display any kind of musicianship or technical ability beyond making the squealing sounds of each note, made his work utterly fascinating to me.

When I was a little girl, I would daydream about what it would be like if you could be yourself but see the world through someone else’s eyes at the same time. I imagined lowering myself down into someone else’s body feet first, lining up my toes inside theirs, fitting my fingers one by one into the other person’s hands as though into a glove of flesh, matching our belly buttons, and finally, eyeball inside eyeball, looking out onto the world with pellucid double vision, mind and body, theirs and mine, in perfect harmony.

Suddenly, I realized that the sensation I was having while installing Bruce’s show was like my favorite fantasy come true– the feeling of being able to inhabit someone else’s body and vision without having to give up my own autonomy. I was seeing what Bruce saw, but as myself.

It’s one thing to want to create something, another to spend your life interpreting what someone else has made. At that moment, I understood why I had become a curator.

-Marcia Tucker, founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art New York, in her autobiography A Short Life of Trouble