PRINT November 1978

Dennis Oppenheim’s Delirious Operations

HOW INCONGRUOUS THAT DENNIS OPPENHEIM still wears the “conceptual” label when his work has always been at odds with such a designation. Not that this label means much any more, but it seems important to stress at the outset that Oppenheim’s enterprise seems fundamentally about the very dissolution of concepts, about an insistence that abstract systems be treated as physical material to be manipulated. It deals with the corporeality of all human experience (including thought), with events that take place on surfaces and in territories. This is not to say that thought is not an issue in his work. But what is central is that thinking is always aligned with physical operations; it is never distinct from an economy of material and forces. This is a question of events rather than ideas. And Oppenheim’s venture takes place in the region that Nietzsche mapped out antagonistically when he wrote:

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