Tactics: Early Video Works by Dennis Oppenheim

A selection of rarely-seen and recently re-mastered video works from the early 1970s exploring the boundaries of personal risk, transformation, and communication


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions



Osvaldo Romberg, Aaron Levy

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19148


0% Formal - 100% Informal

  • Dennis oppenheim

Slought is pleased to present "Tactics: Early Video Works by Dennis Oppenheim, 1970-1974," a selection of rarely-seen and recently re-mastered video works from the 1970s, from April 1-June 1, 2006. The artist will be present for the public reception on Saturday, April 1st, 2006 from 6:30-8:30pm.

Dennis Oppenheim has received international attention for a body of conceptual artwork that includes performance, sculpture, and photographs. In the early 1970s, Oppenheim was in the vangard of artists using film and video as a means to investigate themes relating to Body Art, Conceptual Art, and performance. In a series of works produced between 1970 and 1974, Oppenheim used his own body as a site to challenge the self: he explored the boundaries of personal risk, transformation, and communication through ritualistic performance actions and interactions.

"Among the list of 'un-American' artists who have worked outside the boundaries of so-called 'signature style,' one must include Dennis Oppenheim. Oppenheim is an artist who from the very beginning has created for himself complete freedom of procedure, as evidenced from his early earthworks to the installations of the 1960s and 1970s. His work has always related to nature, and to a very special sense of the human character. Oppenheim's influence, his commitment to humanistic values and moral critique, and his presence as a role model also extends to the present moment." -- Osvaldo Romberg

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Program One: Aspen Projects
(1970, 30 min, b&w and color, silent)

Material Interchange 1970, 2:44 min, b&w, silent
Identity Transfer 1970, 1 min, b&w, silent
Rocked Hand 1970, 3:34 min, color, silent
Compression - Fern #1 1970, 5:46 min, color, silent
Pressure Piece #1 1970, 1:40 min, color, silent
Glassed Hand 1970, 2:56 min, color, silent
Compression - Poison Oak 1970, 2:46 min, color, silent
Compression - Fern #2 1970, 5:22 min, color, silent
Leafed Hand 1970, 3:44 min, color, silent

Program Two
(1970, 14:56 min, b&w and color, silent)

Extended Armour 1970, 2:08 min, b&w, silent
Gingerbread Man 1970, 1:42 min, b&w, silent
Nail Sharpening 1970, 2:57 min, b&w, silent
Toward Becoming a Devil 1970, 2:20 min, b&w, silent
Rocked Stomach 1970, 2:48 min, color, silent
Fusion: Tooth and Nail 1970, 2:58 min, color, silent

Program Three
(1972-74, 24:30 min, b&w and color, sound)

Disappear 1972, 5:57 min, sound, b&w
Brush 1973, 4:56 min, color, sound
I'm Failing 1972-73, 1:48 min, color, sound
My Father's Socks 1972, 5:50 min, b&w, sound
Mittens 1974, 4:21 min, b&w, sound

Program Four
(1971-72, 44:50 min, b&w, silent)

Vibration #1 1971, 13:30 min, b&w, silent
Vibration #2 1972, 11:24 min, b&w, silent
2 Stage Transfer Drawing (Advancing to a Future State) 1971, 7:42 min, b&w, silent
2 Stage Transfer Drawing (Retreating to a Past State) 1971, 12:04 min, b&w, silent

Program Five
(1970-71, 37:45 min, b&w and color, silent)

Air Pressure (hand) 1971, 5:25 min, color, silent
Lead Sink for Sebastian 1970, 4:42 min, color, silent
Nail Sharpening 1970, 6:02 min, color, silent
Gingerbread Man 1970-71, 8:45 min, b&w, silent
Fusion: Tooth and Nail 1970, 12:03 min, color, silent

Program Six
(1971-72, 27:18 min, b&w and color, silent)

Forming Sounds 1971, 7:14 min, b&w and color, silent
2 Stage Transfer Drawing (Advancing to Future State) 1971, 2:48 min, color, silent
2 Stage Transfer Drawing (Retreating to a Past State) 1971, 2:57 min, color, silent
A Feedback Situation 1971, 3:02 min, color, silent
3 Stage Transfer Drawing 1972, 3:07 min, color, silent
Two Stage Transfer Drawing (Returning to a Past State) 1971, 3 min, color, silent
Objectified Counterforces 1971, 2:06 min, color, silent
Shadow Project 1971, 3:04 min, color, silent

Wave Forms: Dennis Oppenheim Proposal for 3401 Chestnut St., Philadelphia

A concurrent vault installation that features site plans, scale models and video projections of a forthcoming public commission in Philadelphia by artist Dennis Oppenheim

Slought, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Public Art Program, is pleased to announce "Wave Forms," which is the title of a monumental public artwork by Dennis Oppenheim commissioned by The Hanover Company for a new retail and residential development on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania at 3401 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The project is currently scheduled for completion in 2007. The vault installation at Slought Foundation features site plans, scale models, and video projections that reflect the development of Oppenheim's proposal over the course of a series of presentations before the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Percent for Art Program. Representatives from The Hanover Company, Facilities & Real Estate Services at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia cultural community attended and participated in these presentations.

The underlying structure of Oppenheim's "Wave Forms" is derived from the superposition of sound waves that result from vibrating bells. "Wave Forms" dynamically responds to the challenges facing public art today, and comments on the Liberty Bell and its role in Philadelphia marketing and tourism. "Wave Forms" can also be understood in relation to Oppenheim's previous conceptual and sound work, notably "Attempt to raise hell (1974)," in which a bronze mannequin periodically hits his head against a bronze bell (Permanent collection, Musée national d'Art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris).

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