apexart :: Dennis Oppenheim :: Deep Skin Excursion - Early Work by Howard Fried
Deep Skin Excursion - Early Work by Howard Fried
curated by Dennis Oppenheim

Oppenheim presents the work of a peer in the conceptual art movement, Howard Fried. Using film, installation, and performance, the work delves without hesitation into the deepest and darkest problems of art-making, constantly questioning and prodding the territory in which he worked.

November 20, 1997 - January 3, 1998

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We have always been told of art's capacity to operate on many levels at once... It's almost a clichÈ... But it is true that some artists are possessed with urges that drive deep into rich strata, lying between beds of other kinds, to make up the structural foundation of a work. Howard Fried started his career at a level of operation usually arrived at only after years of uncomfortable analytical probing. Emerging in the early seventies with several other San Francisco Bay Area artists such as Terry Fox, Paul Koss and Chris Burden in Los Angeles, Howard distinguished himself immediately by subverting the rich openness provided by early Conceptual art's untrodden fields, with the most excruciating journeys into paradox.

In examining the 1971 film, "Inside the Harlequin," one is effectively seized by Fried's complex system of entry and the extraordinarily ambitious set of problems set upon himself as he literally enters into the "eye of the storm," scaling the walls of a room as if, to even consider the possibility of a valid work one must position oneself in perfect alignment to it. Fried is correctly placing emphasis on entry, for it is the angled entry that places one's art in a rich territory. No matter how inspired one is, if the territory of operation is undernourished the event created within it will be undernourished as well.

The early seventies was a period of extreme intoxication for the so-called Conceptual artists. Wide doors were opened for the first time, rich oxygen would rush in, sweeping one along in this constant breeze, engaging the artist, making "breathing easy." At this time, it was rare for an artist such as Fried, in the midst of all this easy spanning of territory, to constantly pay heed to his inner urges and step down into the thicker, more treacherous terrain which became his world of operation.

Of the many noble quests undertaken by an artist, none seems as challenging as the use of art to probe itself. The slow and casual unlayering of the beast, rib by rib, joint by joint, it is in every sense a journey crowed by tunnels, blind alleys, mock impulses and divergent crossroads. Howard Fried's urges sent him into this terrain.

Using a "pushed mind," and holding his breath, he submerges into the pitch black of art making. This is often a journey of no return, as the perverse intoxication provided by the occasional bursts of acknowledgment indicating a positive track, possible riches behind doors, pressures one to keep pounding harder for a view, a clearer view, of that sweet connection that establishes a foundation to an art idea.

It is because this world of operation is known to a relative few that it gives me great pleasure to open it up to more viewers.

Dennis Oppenheim
©1997