Directed Seeding-Cancelled Crop

Dennis Oppenheim

Electric City, Washington, USA, 1938 - New York, USA, 2011
  • Date: 
    1969 / Vintage print
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print and chromogenic print on paper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Polyptych consisting of four photographs and a text
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: 127 x 355 cm / Part 01: 98,5 x 78,3 cm / Part 02: 105 x 103,2 cm / Part 03: 94,6 x 75,8 cm / Part 04: 78,2 x 105 cm / Part 05: 53 x 104,5 cm
  • Category: 
    Photography, Action
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Donation of the author, 1998
  • Image credit: 
    © Dennis Oppenheim Photo Dennis Oppenheim Estate

Directed Seeding–Cancelled Crop is from an early part of Dennis Oppenheim’s production. Oppenheim was interested in ideas that questioned the object in Minimalist discourse, and between 1967 and 1969 he produced his earthworks, which fall within the area of Land Art. These were interventions exploring territories away from galleries and museums, using photography as method of documenting them and getting them seen, and at the time, were linked to works being done by artists like Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria and Robert Smithson. In the case of Directed Seeding – Cancelled Crop, the photograph records Oppenheim’s intervention in a wheat field in Finsterwolde, Holland. Firstly, an area of 157 by 267 metres was seeded by a tractor following a line that traced the scaled-down route between the wheat field and the nearest grain storage silo. Then, months later, the grain was harvested in a giant ‘X’ configuration and stored, in order to prevent the usual process of turning the wheat into food. Oppenheim equated the process with the production of colours, which he would then not use in a painting. For this gesture, falling halfway between the realisation and non-realisation of an artwork, photography allowed Oppenheim to document an action that changed the landscape, albeit ephemerally.

Concha Calvo Salanova