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Lisa Oppenheim Articles

Laura Schleussner, Lisa Oppenheim. Klostervelde – Berlin, Flash Art, no. 275 (Nov-Dec 2010)

Lumi Tan, Free, Frieze, March 2011

Laurie Cluitmans, Extending Time. Lisa Oppenheim Reanimates the Past, Metropolis M (English translation), no. 5 (Oct-Nov 2010)

Anne Wehr, Lisa Oppenheim, Frieze, Issue 128 (Jan-Feb 2010)

Cecilia Alemani, Dark side of the moon, MOUSSEmagazine, Issue 16 (Dec-Jan 2009)

Marco Tagliafierro, ‘Solaris’, Art Forum, Nov-Dec 2009

Eva Diaz, Lisa Oppenheim, Artforum 15 September 2009

“Reduced Visibility” 09.15.09 Author: Garland Fielder 09.04.09-11.15.09 The Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts If abstraction can distill the essence of an otherwise quotidian occurrence, it can also achieve a seemingly contradictory end—simply obfuscating the obvious, rendering any meaning arbitrary. “Reduced Visibility,” curated by Kurt Mueller, carries on this tradition of duplicity. The exhibition comprises five artists working in the more politically entrenched region of abstraction. Its success depends on the viewer’s interest in and, at times, tolerance for didacticism. Mueller does well in choosing artists who gravitate toward the sublime. Trevor Paglen’s blurred vistas, which capture a purported secret military testing site off the coast of southern California, formally reference Rothko’s color fields. The sci-fiseeming content of the large-scale photographs enriches the ambient mood created by the works’ atmospheric soft focus. Lisa Oppenheim’s “Multicultural Crayon Displacements” series, 2008, similarly embraces a modernist aesthetic: Drawing from Crayola’s recently launched color palette—expanded to include nonEurocentric skin tones—Oppenheim creates photograms of rectilinear compositions. The results are as sumptuous as her concept is hackneyed. Rico Gatson also deals with racial overtones in his video installation, History Lessons, 2004. This frantic montage of culturally loaded source material, like scenes from The Birth of a Nation and imagery of the 1965 Watts riots, pulsates to a syncopated beat on two screens separated by a black divider. The result is engaging, but at times it is unclear how the commentary extends past a trendy music-video montage. The quietest voice in the show packs the most punch. Mark Lombardi’s drawings of corporate malfeasance are direct and elegant, composed of simple arching lines and circles that trace various money trails. They are disturbing without relying on irrelevant aesthetic decisions to enhance dialogue. The works are abstractions, to be sure, but illustrative enough of the myriad scandalous financial ways of our times to insinuate a cabal of paranoia without coming off as heavy-handed.

Garland Fielder, “Reduced Visibility”, Art Forum (online review), 15 September 2009

“Don’t Expect Anything” 03.10.09 Author: Paola Noé 01.28.09-03.21.09 Francesca Minini The title of this exhibition sounds like an order, commanding the viewer not to expect anything. From whom? From what? Nevertheless, this is a group show of great depth and crowded with ideas. Nina Beier and Marie Lund’s The House and the Backdoor, 2007, attests to the accidental nature of situations: A wooden box resting on a pedestal contains books that Beier’s mother discovered to be identical to those in the library of her husband when she moved in with him. The work is presented as a fragment of a library, in which the titles remain secret, as the volumes are positioned backward, hiding their spines. Chance in everyday situations is perhaps also the mystery that hides behind the starry skies in Lisa Oppenheim’s 100 Photographs That Changed the World, 2007, which captures twinkling stars and is related to one hundred events, as depicted in Time-Life books, that changed the world for better or worse. The works of Karla Black might seem like sculptural accidents. Molded from plastic, body lotion, cotton, plaster, paint, eggs and Vaseline, they bring to mind a range of references––from psychoanalysis to feminism, Abstract Expressionism to Viennese Actionism. Lorna Macintyre makes references to Symbolism instead; she creates elegant and visionary pedestals with mysterious forms, stripped of their primary function and perhaps waiting to be transformed by alchemical procedures. Rosalind Nashashibi’s 16-mm film Eyeballing, 2005, in which roles and messages are exchanged, plays with the contrast between reality and imagination and adds to the formal lightness of this group show. One would not expect such a lightness to emerge from the tough and heavy creative research of her work, as well as the art made by the other eleven women in this show, but it comes as a welcome surprise. Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Paola Noé, “Don’t Expect Anything”, Art Forum (online review), 10 March 2009

Emma Reeves, Lisa Oppenheim: Killed Negatives, After Walker Evans, The Journal, Issue 22 (2008)

Laura Auricchio, Quit Politics, Time Out New York, 13-19 Augustus 2008

Political Art, Love It or Leave It By JOHN GOODRICH | August 28, 2008 Political art is a polymorphous genre. An instrument of both independent protest and totalitarian control, it embraces everything between gentle social commentary and strident advocacy. The sense of outrage that motivated much art of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s can be traced to Goya's "Disasters of War," but today's artists have long since discarded Goya's pictorial acumen for a variety of confrontational tactics: Barbara Kruger's tabloid-style admonitions ("Your Body is a Battleground"), for instance, or Hans Haacke's planting of a corporate logo atop an old East Berlin observation tower. But in recent decades, political art has tended to be more nuanced. Zwirner & Wirth's "Quiet Politics" demonstrates the trend with a selection of works by 10 artists spanning the last 22 years. The intimate but airy installation sprinkles pieces by younger artists among some familiar efforts by veterans, and while a number of the works have a subtle bite, nowhere is there a full-scale call to arms. David Hammons is represented by a signature piece from 1990, an American flag redone in colors associated with the black-power movement. The simple elegance of its conceit makes this work celebratory rather than truculent — though it's also a sly rejoinder to a "love-it-or-leave-it" intolerance of dissent. Rosemarie Trockel's five ski masks (1986), each nestled in an open cardboard box as if ready for sale, seem at first nothing more than colorful headgear with vaguely menacing eye slits. A closer look, however, suggests something far more sinister: a merchandising of abuse, signaled by multiple swastikas and Playboy bunnies incorporated into the knitting — an activity traditionally labeled "women's work." In Roni Horn's paired photographs, dated 1998/2007, wildfowl are reduced to svelte but faceless phenomena. The two prints highlight the blue-green iridescence of the backs of the bird's heads while ensuring they remain anonymous. If these pieces speak largely for themselves, others benefit from information supplied by the exhibition's press release, which is posted on the gallery's Web site. Visitors unfamiliar with the work of the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres — an artist who brought an intimate and interactive element to minimalist installations — can read how he instructed curators to decide for themselves how to arrange his piece from 1992, which consists of a single string of 42 light bulbs. This fact adds an elegiac dimension to the chain of glowing bulbs soaring to the ceiling. Robert Gober's untitled 1991 work looks for all the world like a page from a 1960 issue of the New York Times, until one notices subtle discrepancies, such as a reference to "Beijing" (known in the '60s, of course, as Peking) — and, stranger still, the inclusion of a story of parental torture among several wedding announcements. The gallery's checklist discloses that this work is actually a lithograph with hand-torn edges, painstakingly stained with coffee by the artist. With oddly delicate self-absorption, the artist made one other alteration: He has inserted a small, businesslike article describing his own childhood death, and his mother being held on suspicion of murder. Additional reading, some of it supplied by the press release, is required to fully appreciate the works of Lisa Oppenheim and Christopher Williams. Ms. Oppenheim's four crisply geometric abstractions from 2008, all titled "Multicultural Crayon Displacement," are in fact Cibachrome prints with colors based upon an assortment produced by Crayola. (The company touts the crayons as "an assortment of skin hues that give a child a realistic palette for coloring their world.") Mr. Williams's handsome, if not

gripping, black-and-white photographs from 1989 are selections from a series of 27 such prints that depict glass models of plants in the collection of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. As a kind of taxonomy of human abuse, the artist selected only those plants that were native to countries with a record of "disappearing" dissidents. A 2004 work by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla needs no accompanying explanation. It consists simply of separate containers of water and used motor oil, positioned beneath a photograph of a miniature oil spill in a water puddle. With these spare means it provokes thoughts about the incompatibility of nature's and industry's most indispensable fluids. By comparison, Adel Abdessemed's "Cocktail"(2007), a collection of more than 20 music stands holding sketches of figures, each hurling a glassy nugget, seems like a gesture in search of a meaning. Michael Brown's "In the Meantime...II" (2007), a framed section of mirrored steel shattered at the center, appears to be a rather obvious metaphor for the fragility of perception. With a little luck, visitors may get a glance at the exhibition's most visually seductive piece, Walid Raad's six-minute video titled "I Only Wish That I Could Weep" (2002), which is intermittently on view upstairs. The video's captions assert that it was recorded by a security camera and later procured by a foundation devoted to chronicling Lebanon's contemporary history. (The foundation is itself an artistic invention.) In the video, pedestrians flicker by at high speed in front of a repeatedly (and gloriously) setting sun. Purportedly, the spellbound camera operator forgot his duty and trained the lens on the sun's flaming descent. The exotic image appeals, but even more engaging is the artist's playful pretext for sharing the beauty of his troubled nation. Mr. Raad avoids a pitfall of political art, which is that it tends to be a kind of hybrid — a mix of polemics and aesthetics that diverts the eye only in order to sway the mind. One has the impression there's something bigger than politics for Mr. Raad, and it involves, among other things, visual nourishment. As it happens, this makes his viewpoint especially memorable.

John Goodrich, Political Art, Love It or Leave It, The New York Sun, 28 August 2008

"Gut of the Quantifier" 03.17.08 Author: Brian Sholis 03.09.08-04.20.08 Lisa Cooley Lisa Cooley’s dashing inaugural exhibition paired an artist, Andy Coolquitt, whose sculptures place formalism in the service of utility with another, Frank Haines, whose formal exploits edge into mystical realms. Now the young dealer has filled her long, narrow Lower East Side storefront with a group exhibition that features a mix of work by other young artists, as well as a few 1960s-era predecessors. Named after a song by the Fall with lyrics that turn on minute variations, “Gut of the Quantifier” encourages viewers to look twice: Glance once at works on paper by the late artists Fred Sandback and Brion Gysin, and you’ll encounter stark abstract compositions; circle back, and their marks seems to push and pull into the third dimension, delineating space with economy. (Something similar happens with Paul Sharits’s 27A Continues: White Light of Tunisia/27B Souk of Tunis, an undated marker drawing that opens out onto an entirely different kind of space.) Several of the younger artists nod to classic Conceptualist exercises. Barb Choit’s five sequential color photographs, examples of a larger series, use only the light given off by the collection of lamps they depict to expose the film. The prints range from a moody scene lit only by a fluorescent tube resting on the floor to a bright image in which each bulb is surrounded by a corona of white. Matt Sheridan Smith’s According to speculative logic (five portraits), 2008, comprises five colorful, vaguely familiar portraits taken from various paper currencies; the images are partially visible through irregular windows carved into the silvery scratch-off ink that he has laid over them. Lisa Oppenheim’s slide projection, The Sun Is Always Setting Somewhere Else, 2006, consists of sixteen images of the artist’s hand—positioned in front of a New York sunset—holding up printouts of sunset photographs taken by soldiers in Iraq. The exhibition’s title takes on new meanings as each picture-within-a-picture glides by, collapsing Conceptual and arch-Romantic art-historical precedents.

Brian Sholis, Gut of the Quantifier, Art Forum (online review), 17 March 2008

Rhizome News: The Quiet Storm July 4, 2008 Understated, conceptual gestures predominate in "Quiet Politics," a timely group exhibition currently on display at New York's Zwirner & Wirth. Felix Gonzalez-Torres' single string of lights "Untitled" (for New York) (1992) hangs from the ceiling of the front room and ends, in a tangle, on the floor: an arrangement, at once elegant and casual, that the artist relinquishes to the person installing the work. Lining the gallery hallway are photograms from Lisa Oppenheim's series Multicultural Crayon Displacement (2008), in which the artist employs a vintage, additive color process to generate deceptively straightforward geometric abstractions. Color rectangles overlap in arrays of hybrid tones and, at their center, a fleshy pigment corresponds to one of the crayons in Crayola Company's 'multicultural' set. Oppenheim's additive production of multicultural colors thus parallels the way race is constructed and categorized in social discourse. A similar disjunction between representation and narrative is evident in Christopher Williams' eerie photographs of Harvard University Botanical Museum's collection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life-size, glass flowers. The species the artist chose were particular to twenty-seven countries flagged in a 1986 Commission on International Humanitarian Issues report for human rights abuses. As with Oppenheim's series, Williams' titles signal the conceptual envelope for these beguiling still-lives, listing the names of their origin countries and genus. While other strategies also enter the exhibition, this marriage of formal sophistication and social and political inquiry characterizes the most resonant works, underscoring a point recently made by Francis Al每s, during his last exhibition at David Zwirner: "sometimes doing something poetic can become political, and sometimes doing something political can become poetic." - Tyler Coburn

Tyler Coburn, Rhizome News: The Quiet Storm,, 4 July 2008

Rita Kersting, Top 10 Shows of 2006 (Alexandra Leykauf and Lisa Oppenheim), Art Forum, Dec 2006

Lisa le Feuvre, Lisa Oppenheim,Art Monthly, November 2006

Sven L端tticken, Lisa Oppenheim, Artforum (reviews), December 2005

Roos Gorzak, Lisa Oppenheim, ArtReview, September 2005

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Lisa Oppenheim Articles

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