• Second Life
    Dennis Oppenheim, Lebbeus Woods, Christoph a. Kumpusch, and Kryzsztof Wodiczko
    Aaron Levy, William Menking, Amy Oppenheim, Orkan Telhan, and Ken Saylor
    Slought, Philadelphia
    Feb 09, 2017 to Apr 26, 2017

Adrian Paci, Centro di Permanenza temporanea, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Kaufmann Repetto.

Second Life builds upon contemporary discussions of the "open work," participation, and interactivity by engaging unfinalized works about social and institutional boundaries and thresholds. At Slought, the installation features readings of architect Lebbeus Woods's and Christoph a. Kumpusch's Tales from the Tectonic Forest (2012) in the first gallery, artist Dennis Oppenheim's Guarded Land Area (1970) and related performances in the second gallery, and designer Krzysztof Wodiczko's City Hall Tower Illumination (1987) in the third gallery. The architectural schematics in these works constitute an aesthetic of the threshold that foregrounds experiences of social and institutional boundaries and power dynamics. In situating these works in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other cities marked by periods of individual, communal, and institutional division, we seek to create meaningful conversation and enact threshold experience—psychologically, spatially, and socially.

Dennis Oppenheim (1938–2011) was an influential artist in conceptualism, earthworks, body art, video, and sculpture from the late 1960s. His intense curiosity and his drive for continuous self-transformation led to work that pushed boundaries, resisted labels, and instigated thought-provoking dialogue. In the early 1970s, Oppenheim was in the vanguard of artists using film and video to investigate themes relating to body and performance. Using his body as a site of experimentation on the personal, the artist entered into an intimate and dynamic dialogue as he explored the boundaries of personal risk, bodily transformation, and interpersonal communication. In past years, he became particularly interested in large-scale public works that synthesized art and architecture. Oppenheim exhibited work at major galleries and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery, the Stedeljik Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Lebbeus Woods (1940–2012) was an American architect and artist. Acknowledging the parallels between society's physical and psychological constructions, Woods depicted a career-long narrative of how constructions transform our being. Working mostly with pencil on paper, Woods created an oeuvre of complex worlds—at times abstract and at times explicit—that presented shifts, cycles, and repetitions within the built environment. His timeless architecture is neither crafted in a particular style nor in response to a singular moment in the field; rather, it offers an opportunity to consider how built forms impact the individual and the collective; reflect contemporary political, social, and ideological conditions; and exemplify how one person contributeed to the development and mutation of the built world. Woods studied architecture at the University of Illinois and engineering at Purdue University. Retrospectives of his work were recently displayed at SF MOMA and the Drawing Center.

Krzysztof Wodiczko is professor-in-residence of art, design, and the public domain at Harvard University’s GSD. He is renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments. He has realized more than eighty such public projections in Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Since the late 1980s, his projections have involved the active participation of marginalized and estranged city residents. Simultaneously, he has been designing and implementing a series of nomadic instruments and vehicles with homeless, immigrant, and (war) veteran operators for their survival and communication. In 2009, he represented Poland in the Venice Biennale, while developing the War Veteran Projection Vehicle in Liverpool, the Veterans' Flame project at Governors Island in New York, and presented the Veteran Project (an interior video-projection installation) at the ICA in Boston.

Aaron Levy is director of Slought and a senior lecturer in English and the history of art at the University of Pennsylvania. Levy has curated extensively, including Into the Open, the US representation at the Venice Biennale for Architecture (2008); the Perpetual Peace Project at the United Nations (2009); and Mixplace Studio (2010), an urban education initiative.

William Menking is a professor in city planning at Pratt Institute in New York, and the founder and editor of the Architect's Newspaper. He was commissioner of Into the Open at the US Pavilion (Venice Biennale, 2008), and is a founding board member of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.

Amy Oppenheim is the director of the Dennis Oppenheim Studio and manages the artist's archive and legacy. She began as his assistant in 1977, became his wife in 1998, and worked closely with the artist until his death.

Orkan Telhan is an assistant professor of emerging design practices at PennDesign. He holds a PhD in design and computation from MIT's Department of Architecture, where he studied under Kryzstof Wodiczko and was part of the Sociable Media Group and Mobile Experience Lab at MIT Media Laboratory.

Ken Saylor is a founding principal of Saylor + Sirola, a New York City-based architecture, art and design consultancy. He has designed numerous gallery, museum and media installations with artists, curators, and institutions throughout the Americas, the European Union, and the United Arab Emirates.

Slought (“Sl-aw-t”) is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2002, that engages publics in dialogue about cultural and sociopolitical change in Philadelphia, the world, and the cloud. We are a new form of institution that builds relationships and social trust through collaboration and the exchange of ideas. For over a decade, we have worked with artists, communities, and institutions worldwide to develop projects that encourage inclusiveness, advocacy, and the sharing of knowledge.