Bruce Conner - ArtReview

Martin Herbert’s pick of March exhibitions

By Martin Herbert


Bruce Conner, Bellas Artes Projects, Manila, 24 February – 24 May

Affiliated with California’s neosurrealist assemblage scene from the 1950s onwards but a mystic-minded outrider even there, Bruce Conner was determinedly elusive in life. He announced his own death twice, officially renounced art in 1999 and earlier operated under aliases including Emily Feather, BOMBHEAD and the Dennis Hopper One Man Show. Conner was also, as his recent resurrection within the artworld reflects, something of a visionary. He was a mocker of authorship who pseudonymously exhibited nineteenth-century engravings; his 1966 film Breakaway, featuring hyperactive dancing by Toni Basil, is considered the first music video; his 1975 Crossroads, 37 minutes of slow-motion footage (soundtracked in part by Terry Riley) of the 1946 nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, remains bleakly mesmeric and is hardly his only film made from purloined imagery. A transformative out-of-body experience Conner had aged eleven gives its title to Bruce Conner: Out of Body, which focuses on his films but also includes photographs and works on paper, and which, as the artist might well have liked, you’ll venture to the Philippines to see.