Early in Bruce Nauman: Make Me Think, the narrator says the artist’s films, unlike those of Hollywood, are “not entertaining, loud and aggressive, silent and repetitive.” Has he been to the cinema lately? That’s all they are.

It’s ironic that these banal voiceovers accompany one of the most intriguing modifiers of language. Using sculpture, photography, neon, drawing, performance art and video, much of Nauman’s oeuvre is about clever or subversive word play.

There’s the neon “Run From Fear – Fun From Rear” and the equally flashy “One Hundred Live and Die” in which four columns of rainbow neon proclaim “Live and Die” beside “Live and Live” and “Suck and Die” and “Suck and Live” among 94 other combinations.

For those unable to attend one of Nauman’s intermittent retrospectives, the film provides an adequate buffet of his work. As many of his pieces are video-based, at times nothing is lost in translation to your TV screen – except the context.

While one of his best known works – “Clown Torture” – is shown, when installed it consists of four monitors arranged around a gallery, some on their sides, or upside down, the sound from all four concerting into a cacophony of torture. There’s experiencing art and seeing art, and in art documentaries the delineation between the two becomes depressingly lucid.

One clown screams in terror, another two attempt to balance fish bowls (they fail), a third tries to complete “Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off; who was left? Repeat. Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence…” as he becomes increasingly annoyed, and the final clown, on an apparent surveillance camera, endeavors to use the toilet to no avail. Individually they appear almost humorous – one must imagine themselves in a darkened gallery, the sound of breaking glass, screams, repeating rhymes and – shudder – using an apparent bus station bathroom.

Still, for the uninitiated, Make Me Think does just that – and if it’s only to wonder how you can see Nauman’s material in person, the video is as successful as the clown’s unsuccessful.

Grade: B

Bruce Nauman: Make Me Think is currently available.