Body Pressure is an art piece by Bruce Nauman from 1974 which basically is a mix between conceptual text art and performance art. The work invites the spectator to become the performer. The physical form of the work is a simple poster which serves more as an igniter as it gives the performers a set of typed out instructions for merging their bodies with an architectural surface. Body Pressure is, aside from the physical experience, also a mental journey which challenges the performers to think about the physical aspects and limitations of their own bodies and travel beyond these limitations in their minds.
Below follows the text of the poster:
Press as much of the front surface of
your body (palms in or out, left or right cheek)
against the wall as possible.
Press very hard and concentrate.
Form an image of yourself (suppose you
had just stepped forward) on the
opposite side of the wall pressing
back against the wall very hard.
Press very hard and concentrate on the image pressing very hard.
(the image of pressing very hard)
press your front surface and back surface
toward each other and begin to ignore or
block the thickness of the wall. (remove
Think how various parts of your body
press against the wall; which parts
touch and which do not.
Consider the parts of your back which
press against the wall; press hard and
feel how the front and back of your
body press together.
Concentrate on the tension in the muscles,
pain where bones meet, fleshy deformations that occur under pressure; consider
body hair, perspiration, odors (smells).
This may become a very erotic exercise.
Bruce Nauman, Body Pressure, 1974, (c) 2002 Bruce Nauman /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Work by Bruce Nauman | Photos by Bruce Nauman, top: Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, centre: Jacob Birken