Lisa Oppenheim

Lisa Oppenheim, By Faith and Industry (installation view), 2006

Lisa Oppenheim, By Faith and Industry (installation view), 2006

Lisa Oppenheim (b. New York, 1975) is fascinated by archives, and particularly by the many ways in which archives allow us to slip between past and present.

There is a general interest today in archives, both in the material they store and in the archive as an entity. We have gained awareness of the personality – and even the subjectivity – that each specific archive embodies. It is impossible to aseptically separate the collected documents from the collection itself and its particular curation, structure and history. Furthermore, we no longer trust documentation, particularly as evidence on which we can rely uncritically.

Some artists share this inclination. Although there is a considerable amount of boring, straightforward documentary work, there are also artists who address the subject critically, exploring the complexities and ambiguities involved. Oppenheim is certainly one of them; her work is a paradigm of a creative, open way of dealing with archives. An iconoclast who works with images, she enjoys the intriguing appeal of old, historical photographs and films, but questions them.

Her approach is simultaneously playful and subversive, introducing humour into usually ‘severe’ subject matter. One could say that Oppenheim ‘replays’ archives. Her work is a sharp jouis-sance on the relativeness of memory and the mismatch in the processes of constructing visual and textual meaning, highlighting the opacities in their mutual relationship.

In her piece for International 06 entitled By Faith and Industry (2006) Oppenheim prompted us to reflect on the complex relationship between image and text.

Lisa Oppenheim at Liverpool Biennial 2006

By Faith and Industry, 2006
Installation, 16mm film projection 
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006 
Exhibited in the Open Eye Gallery

Supported by

Supported by Mondriaan Foundation
Royal Netherlands Embassy