Dennis Oppenheim: Danger and the domain of procedural risk

Jo Melvin
Dennis Oppenheim talks series
29th January 2014
Henry Moore Institute seminar Room, 6pm

Installation view of Gallery 1, showing detail from:

Dennis Oppenheim
'Launching Sculpture #3. An Armature for Projection. (From The Fireworks Series)'
Scale model for outdoor work
Aluminium, steel, iron, wood, Pyrex, fireworks, electric motors

Courtesy City of Geneva, Contemporary Art Fund (FMAC)
Photo: David Cotton

'Your mind is like a blow torch trying to burn things can find down so you can find a home.' Dennis Oppenheim in conversation with Bill Beckley, published in The Sticky Sublime, Allworth Press, New York, 2001.

Many artists put danger to work in the 1960s and 70s critique of aesthetics. The traces begin in Fluxus and much earlier with the French playwright Alfred Jarry in Ubu Roi. Oppenheim's testing of the parameters of an artwork and their actual and psychological boundaries is a clearly articulated component of his practice from the 1960s with his contribution to Willoughby Sharp's Earth Art exhibition at Andrew Dickson White Museum, Cornell University in 1969.

This lecture will look at group and solo exhibitions in the USA and in Europe from the 1960s to 80s. It will explore how Oppenheim's work and those of some of his contemporaries, such as Jan Dibbets and Robert Barry, enabled new and radical examinations of the transcendent in art practice through an emphasis on the dematerialisation of the art object.

Dr Jo Melvin teaches Fine Art Theory at Chelsea college of art, UAL. She is an art historian with a particular interest in recent histories and the representation of art practice and its documentation through archives in exhibitions and publication. Currently she is compiling the Barry Flanagan catalogue raisonnée and working with the performance collective JonJocJoshi on an exhibition at the Musée d'art du Valais, Sion Switzerland, November 2013 to March 2014.

An audio recording of this event is available in the Henry Moore Institute Research Library.

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