Nauman used a computer program that features 32,000 different versions of his clowns gesturing, before the piece repeats itself and amps up the bedlam again.
This bewildering sideshow attraction gives the impression that the figures fluctuate from bitch-slapping each other to playing a wild game of patty-cake, and implicates one in a vision of a deranged dog-eat-dog world where pleasure can be had only by shanking your fellow man in the ass.
Bruce Nauman's Mean Clowns
Through January 2
Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St,
North Miami; 305-893-6211
In his most ambitious neon work, the billboard-size One HundredLive and Die, phrases like "sick and die," "spit and die," "suck and die," "sleep and live," "fuck and live," and "rage and live" flash one after the other and then all light up like a brilliant Tower of Babel, echoing the gamut of human emotion before fading out and leaving the spectator trapped in the rubble of endless repetition.
Like a jackhammer blasting away at the brain, Nauman assaults the senses with questions for which he never offers answers. You might leave this show feeling slightly battered and bruised, but life is tough, and that is a point the artist unfailingly and ruthlessly drills home.