Dennis Oppenheim - Tooth and Nail: Film and Video, 1970-1974 (1970)

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Oppenheim's Aspen Series, presented here, is one of the landmarks of early video art, ranking with Nauman, Acconci, and Abramovic as the most important work of the early 1970s. This landmark collection was just recently released. I've included a snapshot of all the titles below, as well as the essay from the catalog. Please buy this dvd (link) and support the restoration and distribution of film video and film art! -mediaburn(kg member)

From Disc:

Dennis Oppenheim (born 1938) has received international attention for a conceptual oeuvre spanning performance, video, sculpture, installation, and land art. In the early 1970s, Dennis Oppenheim was in the vanguard of artists using film and video to investigate themes relating to body and performance. This portfolio features a selection of his works known as the Aspen Tapes, produced between 1970 and 1974, in which Oppenheim uses his own body as a site of experimentation on the personal. In these works the artist enters into an intimate and dynamic dialogue with his body as he explores the boundaries of personal risk, bodily transformation, and interpersonal communication. With the publication of this portfolio in collaboration with the artist's studio, this seminal series of quasi-anthropological performances is now available to the public for the first time on DVD.

Just as Oppenheim's work explores new and unusual forms of communication and address, Slought Foundation hopes that this portfolio contributes to an existing discourse about alternative possibilities for cultural production and reception. In Oppenheim’s Transfer Drawings and Identity Transfers, for instance, the artist deposits and retrieves information from his daughter Kristin and his son Erik. In so doing, Oppenheim presents the act of communicating with others as a physical and biological extension of the self. Likewise, we encourage you to experiment by viewing the works featured in this collection outside the confines of a gallery or museum, and in your own home, community, and places of work, alone or in dialogue with your children and parents, colleagues and friends, neighbors and strangers.

Further Information:

“In a sense, I am creating a system that allows the artist to become the material, to consider himself the sole vehicle of the art, the distributor, initiator and receiver simultaneously. Understanding the body as both subject and object permits one to think in terms of an entirely different surface. It creates a shift in direction from the creation of solid matter to the pursuit of internal or surface change. With this economy of output one can oscillate from the position of instigator to victim. Take the phenomenon of grabbing: instead of grabbing clay, you grab your stomach. For the first time, instead of imposing form manually, you are feeling what it is like to be made. You might have felt your hands picking up a piece of wood and stacking it, but you have never felt what the wood felt.” -- Dennis Oppenheim

"The idea that one developmental sequence has to be traceable through an entire oeuvre may be an outdated Modernist anxiety, from an age obsessed with the idea that History is the temporal embodiment of Reason. Oppenheim’s work, with its emphasis on discontinuities and ruptures, implies a different, more dialectical, relationship to the sense of evolution. In fact, a kind of Aufhebung, or overleaping of the self through incorporation of its other, underlies a lot of the shifts in Oppenheim’s sequences.

In this, the work seems to offer an analogue to the art history of a changing and volatile era—an era when the Hegelian idea of Spirit as the moving force of art became mobile, the Spirit moving restlessly from one lode to another for its fuel. It is arguable that Oppenheim’s shifts have not been strictly in response to this generalized shifting of the Spirit of things, but that, in part, they have been a guiding force of the series of shifts. -- Thomas McEvilley

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at 11:10 AM