Lip Sync


Videotape, black and white, sound
57 min.
Pinault Collection

Lip Sync (1969) — an abbreviation referring to the synchronisation of sound with the movement of the lips — is a close - up of Nauman’s mouth as he attempts to repeat in sync the words that he is hearing on his headphones. Although he goes painstakingly about his task, failures of coordination between his mouth and tongue become evident.

Nauman evokes both the power and fragility of the organ of speech in an approach that in many respects recalls the work of Samuel Beckett. Lip Sync in particular echoes Beckett’s dramatic monologue Not I (1972), in which all that can be seen in the total dark of the theatre is the actress’s mouth, lit by a single spotlight. From this mouth, all that remains of the human body, emerges an intense, emotional soliloquy. The mouth, moved by an urgent need to express itself, nevertheless does not really manage to do so and gets lost in an unbroken and incomprehensible flow of words.