Structural Variations on a Device to Root out Evil

A teen workshop exploring the process of constructing and deconstructing a provocative public artwork by Dennis Oppenheim


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Comm. Development
  • Design
  • Pedagogy
  • Public culture

Organizing Institutions

Slought, The Village of Arts and Humanities, Public Workshop

Contributing Institutions

Dennis Oppenheim Estate


Aaron Levy, Amy Plumb Oppenheim, Elizabeth Grimaldi, Alex Gilliam

Opens to public



The Village of Arts and Humanities
2544 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19133


0% Formal - 100% Informal

  • Dennis oppenheim

Slought, The Village of Arts and Humanities, and Public Workshop, in partnership with the Dennis Oppenheim Estate, celebrate the life and work of pioneering artist Dennis Oppenheim by exploring new variations on his provocative public sculpture, Device to Root out Evil (1997). The work will serve as the catalyst for a weeklong teen workshop and a series of public conversations at The Village of Arts & Humanities in North Philadelphia, offering area residents a platform to discuss the urban spaces and social conditions in which they live, learn, work, and play. 

The workshop will be held on one of The Village's reclaimed lots August 8-11th, 2011. It is geared toward active participants in The Village's innovative programming, teens ages 14-19, while welcoming the community at large. Facilitated by Public Workshop, the teens will work through the process of constructing and deconstructing Oppenheim's original Device to Root Out Evil. As the teens are guided in developing the techniques and skills required to construct a structural object, each variation presents an opportunity for discussion of the values and aspirations the participants hold for their community. The process will initiate a conversation on the methods by which the aspirations can be addressed. 

In conjunction with the workshop, there will be a series of public conversations with guest artists, designers and community thinkers about public art and practice, as well as Oppenheim's work and legacy. This youth workshop finds its public forum at the intersection of three organizations that aspire to be responsive to communities.

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Dennis Oppenheim, who passed away in January 2011, was an influential artist in conceptualism, earthworks, body art, video, and sculpture since the late 1960's. His intense curiosity and his drive for continuous self-transformation lead to work that pushed boundaries, resisted labels, and instigated thought-provoking dialogue. In past years, he became particularly interested in large-scale public works that synthesized art and architecture of which Device to Root out Evil is emblematic.

Oppenheim exhibited work at major galleries and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He also collaborated with Slought on several projects and served on the organization's Advisory Committee (2006-2011).

 An active participate in the New York City's Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP), Dennis Oppenheim was a generous and inspiring creative force.

His project manager, Amy Plumb, will participate in the workshop and discussions this summer.

The Village of Arts and Humanities supports the voices and aspirations of the community by providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. The Village inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that encompass arts and culture, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage and respect the environment.

Public Workshop is a cheerleader of possibility, dedicated to helping individuals, schools and communities achieve great things through design. Public Workshop creates uniquely engaging opportunities for youth and their communities to shape the design of their cities.

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Camille Cazon, Erin Keith, John Wheeler, Charles Oropallo, Gregory Sale

Tools and Expertise
Jebney Lewis, Harold Hood

Lumber Donations
Woodland Building Supply, Torres Lumber Co.

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