Dennis Oppenheim—Yoko Ono—Pino Pinelli—Sylvie Bonnot—Mengzhi Zheng

Summer/Fall Group Show 2020 

The Merchant House reopens its 2020 program with Urban Image-Jitters I (City) & II (Body). This installment takes its cue from Dennis Oppenheim’s famous project drawing Virus (1989) and Craigie Horsfield’s “billboard in downtown Manhattan days after 9/11” and related pieces. Together with the provocative art of Pino Pinelli and Sylvie Bonnot, featured in parallel, these works deconstruct the ruptures and impact of cities in a biocultural crisis. PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: DENNIS OPPENHEIM, YOKO ONO, PINO PINELLI, SYLVIE BONNOT, MENGZHI ZHENG, MARY SUE.

A 1992 article in The New York Times quoted Dennis Oppenheim: “Virus was conceived as part of a larger body of work that used common, lighthearted images on ‘deadly structures.’ Virus was supposed to have the characteristic of a biological model, but instead of using the usual round sphere, I used Mickey and Donald. The message was one of giving people image-jitters, of using common light figures in a heavier context.” The article highlighted Disney’s demand to destroy Oppenheim’s sculpture (then installed in a California office complex) on copyright grounds. In the years preceding, the poignant Virus was shown all over the world. Like all germinal art, and more than ever now, such works draw energy—with irreverence or poise—from particular incidents of life but speak to looming social issues.

Dennis Oppenheim’s Virus, collectible card, Perrin Studio design


Curator tours led by Marsha Plotnitsky, Fall 2020 – Winter 2021 / Amsterdam Gallery Weekend, 26-29 Nov 2020

Dennis Oppenheim at FIAC, Paris
Presented by Galerie Mitterrand
21 – 24 Oct 2021

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Elucidating the present and imagining the future, Oppenheim’s Virus as well as Pinelli’s wall-defying Pittura R. and Bonnot’s hard-etched Tokyo as well as other works on view powerfully capture the timeless spirit of art. In foregrounding time, they connect to the work of Craigie Horsfield. The new installation offers a chance to revisit Horsfield’s affective prints steeped in his fascinating conception of “slow time.” As Horsfield once said: “The situations in these works may appear familiar at first glance, and yet each unfolds into an intimate epic as our senses open us to recognition, to stories of our own lives, and to our own responsibility.”

Proposed by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH Founding Artistic Director, for 2020, Urban Image-Jitters I (City) and II (Body) highlights the physical experience of art in several interdisciplinary installments throughout the year.