FONS ÀUDIO #12 Kristin Oppenheim
Kristin Oppenheim (Honolulu, Hawaii, 1959) lives and works in New York. She uses her own melancholy and mysterious voice as a means to dramatise the exhibition space and stage the poetic relationships between sound, personal memory and collective experience. The austerity of her installations link her to the minimalist current, while the experimental use of voice and sound bring her into line with conceptual art.
The earliest attempts at using the human voice in the visual arts can be traced back to the sound poetry of the Futurists and Dadaists in the twenties, which were taken up again in the fifties by the lletrists and by figures like Vito Acconci, Henri Chopin and John Giorno.
Kristin Oppenheim takes fragments of popular songs or poems that she has written or found and sings them repeating them in a loop that almost functions as a mantra. In 'Hey Joe' (1996), the artist recites the first line of the homonymous track that Jim Hendrix made famous in 1962, which talks about a man who has murdered his wife and plans to run away to Mexico to escape a jail sentence.
The verse that Oppenheim recites goes like this: «Hey Joe, where're you going with that gun in your hand?» The repetition of this question and the fragility of the voice that speaks it plunge the spectator into a haunting atmosphere in which the sense of danger and vulnerability rises in crescendo. At the same time, the artist places two spotlights in the ceiling that project beams of light onto the floor of the empty room.