Thank you to Herbert Bayer for his vision. Dennis Oppenheim 2007
To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Bayer’s Earthworks, it is appropriate to mention that Oppenheim’s first show at the John Gibbon Gallery in 1968 was photographs, drawings and models of proposals for “Ground Systems,” works on the land designated for open areas of at least four acres, made from furrows, hedges, trenches, mounds, water, earth and grass. In the two years following, Oppenheim produced the seminal Land Art works, Annual Rings, Canceled Crop and Salt Flat, among others.
The invitation to participate in the exhibition “Land Reclamation as Sculpture” was an opportunity for Oppenheim to think again about issues explored in Land Art. But the proposal for the Reclamation initiative required a new way of thinking about structure and how it could influence real land use.
Waiting Room for the Midnight Special. (A Thought Collision Factory for Ghost Ships) is poetic and imaginary, yet it is practical, a solid contribution following Bayer’s vision of the work of art as artistic and functional in the context of public works projects.
The artistic trajectory of Dennis Oppenheim has always been characterized by its incorrigible discontinuity, motivated then as today by an intensely adventurous curiosity. Following his earthworks (1967-69 and body-works came the installations (from 1972 onwards), using puppets as their main theme (the harrowing piece "Attempt to Raise Hell" at the Pompidou Center). Later on, at the end of the seventies, Oppenheim produced what he calls his "machine pieces" which, by denying the object its sculptural status, are presented as complex constructions, systems open to both an aleatory and an enigmatic mode of functioning... There is an interesting progression from the early machine pieces which seemed infused with a confidence in rationality and in the possibility of grasping the structure of the mind to the late works which were designed to literally blow up and which seem to celebrate the triumph of irrationality and chaos.
Art Press, January 1993, Dennis Oppenheim: A Process of Discontinuity, by Eleanor Heartney. Recently selected to participate in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China Dennis Oppenheim continues to be an influential figure in international contemporary art. He first achieved recognition for conceptual work in the sixties, through Earth and Body Art, video and performance.
Dennis Oppenheim was born in 1938 in Electric City, Washington. He received his B.F.A. from the School of Arts and Crafts, and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. Dennis Oppenheim lives and works in New York.
Waiting Room for the Midnight Special. (A Thought Collision Factory for Ghost Ships), 1979. Wood, fiberglass and steel. 6’ X 10’ x 20.’ Proposal for Sand Point, Seattle, Washington.