Dennis Oppenheim is the protagonist of Intersezioni fourth edition, an event where contemporary sculpture and archaeology come into contact and contaminate each other.
For the first time, the long-awaited happening will double thanks to two different exhibitions set up in the Scolacium Archaeological Site and in the Catanzaro MARCA Museum. Both events are organized by Alberto Fiz, the artistic Director of the MARCA Museum.
This is the perfect chance to meet the works of one of the major actors on the international artistic scene. As a matter of fact, since the Sixties he contributed to renew art languages through his support to Land Art and later to Body Art.
The MARCA Museum displays sculptures and project models created since the Sixties; while the Scolacium Park hosts monumental works of the last decade and inedited declarations in the frame of one of the most important archaeological sites in South Italy.
As Alberto Fiz says: “Oppenheim’s structures challenge art and architecture limits. Each element in these works undertakes a complex metamorphosis process. As a result, the standard object dimension is completely overruled by a force which is both constructive and deconstructive. The Bauhaus principles are re-discovered and proposed with strong irony and provocation elements which upset the bourgeois rules of contemporary art.”
After a careful inspection, Oppenheim decided to take advantage of the whole territory of the Scolacium Park by involving both the naturalistic and the historic features. The exhibition will therefore extend from the olive grove to the three significant monuments: the Norman basilica, the Forum and the Roman Theatre. Oppenheim himself declares: “Scolacium is a unique place where time passes in a suspended environment. That’s why I think it is particularly fascinating for my sculptures which do not aim at offering a comforting vision, but rather at developing a new vital energy in a natural environment.” On the occasion of this public exhibition the artist visits Italy for the second time. He firstly travelled to this country twelve years ago, in 1997, for the display organized by Germano Celant in Marghera industrial area.
In Scolacium are displayed 20 large installations which show the latest artist investigation. The works presented have a strong visionary and destabilizing power and develop a new perception of physical and psychological space moving between science and science fiction.
Among the public art projects, the exhibition contains Tumbling Mirage (2007-2009). This work includes three enormous spheres, each one with six-metre diameter, which are mysterious presences and real futuristic mirages for the visitors. They are space shuttles coming from an unknown galaxy which came down in the park to establish a new relationship with the space. One of these shuttles is placed most suitably in the Roman Forum and through the contact with the mysterious object designed by Oppenheim, the ancient city square acquires a new dimension.
The de-contextualization of the aesthetic event is the main theme also in Electric Kisses, two habitable structures in steel and blue pipes. These four-metres-high works revise the Islamic buildings under a post-modern light and contaminate the park.
Alternative Landscape is especially evocative. This large installation, so rich in elements, tends to develop a new form of land art. The result is an imaginary landscape which leads to a renewed dialogue between artificial and natural forms. Fluorescent trees with steel branches inweave with strange mutant and genetically modified plastic flowers.
Surrounded by a Nature which is too often disfigured, Oppenheim creates an ironic and biting warning. “It’s like displaying Las Vegas roulette and slot machines in once own back yard” explains Oppenheim. His The Alternative Landscape was installed in Central Park (New York) in 2006 and it now arrives for the first time in Europe with a completely renewed aspect for the Scolacium Park exhibition.
The park is occupied also by two enormous five-metres-high street cones which cause an ironic short circuit with the surrounding environment. “What I’m interested in”, says Oppenheim, “is not displaying my works in the Scolacium park, but rather upsetting the classic point of view of the public. Through my project the visitors will face the unforeseen and unforeseeable.”
In the shallows of the archaeological site, the public will be surprised to find Submerged Vessels (2001), an installation made up of three vessels in fibreglass and steel coming from the Fundacion Cristobal Gabarron in Valladolid. The vessels come symbolically to light as if they were archaeological finds themselves.
The works which give the name to both exhibitions are the Splashbuilding placed in the Roman Theatre where they acquire a totally unusual aspect. These works, created in 2009, are united by a common idea: the molecular explosion accompanied by the progressive laceration of the elements. “The liquid society fully expresses itself in this original research where simple water drops become a mirror, a starting point for an investigation on the universe”, says Alberto Fiz.
Thanks to constant changes and stratifications, the ancient part of the site continues living in the contemporary world. The two aspects become engaged in a dialogue without time based on changeable elements in a transgressive and dream-like vision.
The project is completed by Oppenheim’s exhibition organized in conjunction with Alex Katz’s display (open until September 27th) at the MARCA Museum. Here it is possible to admire significant sculptures such as Sworm (2009) or Light Chamber (2009) which underline Oppenheim’s creative freedom. As a matter of fact, the artist creates unstable and provisional elements and positions them according to his investigation; always focusing on the relationship between architecture and design.
At the MARCA Museum, the American artist also displays his renowned deers with flames coming from their horns. The flames are produced by a gas bottle which represents the interbreeding penetrating also in protected natural species.
Moreover, the 30 emblematic pieces displayed are monumental sculpture models created since 1967 to nowadays and coming from the artist’s studio as well as from major public institutions such as the SMAK (Gand). This is the perfect chance to follow the evolution of Oppenheim’s investigation through renowned pieces and works which found their final location all around the world; from California to Korea and from Finland to Portugal. Tornado houses, caravan bats, mechanic igloos, bus in the shape of insects and spiral-shape buildings fill the imaginary of this restless and ingenious artist.
The MARCA exhibition also includes a wide documentation on his video production since the Sixties.
Dennis Oppenheim (1938 - 2011) contributed significantly to change contemporary art language since the Sixties. Together with Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Vito Acconci and Robert Morris, he experienced the principles of environmental art, Land Art and Body Art. His independent and totally personal poetics is characterized by forms which transit from one situation to another and from a material to another creating a continuous metamorphosis which can question art, architecture and design rules. His universe appears to be instable while it continues acquiring new formal dimensions. Oppenheim’s first solo exhibition in 1968 was organized by the John Gibson Gallery in New York. Since then, his works have been displayed in the most renown museums and foundations all round the world; among these: the Tate Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Whitney Museum of American Art; as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
The artist accepted many public commissions like those from the Ballerup Kommune in Copenhagen; from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and from the Olympic Park in South Korea.
His latest Italian public display took place in 1997 at the Marghera industrial area.
In 2007 Oppenheim took part in the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale.
On June 28th, 2009 closed his wide solo exhibition at the Marta Herford Museum in Herford, Germany.