Saturday, October 18, 2008

sticky sublime and the pusuit of strangeness

I've been thinking about this comment recently:

But to get back to the sublime, if you start out academically and you are a student and you are trying to understand some of the networks behind art, and you are getting more comfortable with what might be, what it could be, what some of the apparatus might be, there still is this very self-conscious deliberate journey you are on and that is much of what I felt in graduate school. This journey oriented to assuming a belief that through this intelligence, through mental acuity, you are going to try to pressure these doors open and to give you some sight. And all that is done without being in tune, necessarily, with the enormous levels an artist can bring into himself, and assume, and let open, once you are relaxed about the arena you are in. Your mind is like a blowtorch, trying to burn down things so you can find a home. You’re in the woods, and now it’s time to both feel the repercussions of what you did, and to flavor yourself with a little more feedback from Camus. I thought a lot of that early stuff of mine was deliberate and intellectually oriented. The piece with the spider, where I coaxed the spider through the tube, some of that stuff started to allow certain chemical and psychological things in, that didn’t get in at the start, because you were too targeted. Like the case about the object, the anti-object and the role of galleries. Soon there came a time when the decisions were made in less calculated ways. They were a bit more mysterious. These are the elements that were going to separate you from other people. They were not strategic. They were violating strategy, and in its place there was a kind of uncertainty. So through this mystique I would find references operating in a large universal, or perhaps, in an arena more capable of strangeness.

Dennis Oppenheim speaking with Bill Beckley

Sticky Sublime, 2001 – pg. 109

1 comment:

CAP said...

Then again a lot of Oppenheim's statements are so cagey and defensive the implication is that the 'journey' he set himself is one of just passive/aggressive provocation and attention seeking.

For a 'conceptual' artist he's always been reluctant about exercising or verbalising any concepts - happier to leave that to peers (Smithson, Matta-Clark). As his work recedes into history, he looks more and more just one of the gang. A rebel in someone else's rebellion, a rebel when and where it was hip.