the New school presents artist dean erdmann's and, apollo: a Laboratory, an exhibition that explores the connections between the cold war space race, militarization, and technological acceleration

And, Apollo will be on display at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries from January 16-February 11, 2020. Opening Reception on January 23, 6-8 pm.

 Dean Erdmann, Video still from Glass, 2019, (c) Dean Erdmann.

New York, January 10, 2020 --The New School’s  Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and Vera List Center for Art and Politics in conjunction with Urban Glass, presents And, Apollo, a work in progress by artist Dean Erdmann that combines experimental documentary, video, and sculpture to connect autobiography to historical pasts. The exhibition  will be on view at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries of The New School from January 16 - February 11, 2020.

Erdmann has been developing And, Apollo, which ties personal narrative to current moments of social and political crisis, as a 2018-2020 Fellow at Vera List Center for Arts and Politics. The narrative of the exhibition is anchored in the Mojave Desert, the place where the artist grew up and the background for their ongoing exploration of Americana, the body, and queerness. 

"The Vera List Center is proud to have supported Dean Erdmann's research project as a 2018-2020 VLC Fellow and the presentation of this semi-autobiographical, environmental installation at The New School," says Eriola Pira, Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics.  "The project draws global links between America, Germany, and Japan in addressing politics of place, class, and the body, through an exploration of speed and methamphetamine use."  

Using artifacts and storytelling, Erdmann turns the Californian desert into a landscape reverberating with connections between the Cold War Space Race, militarization, technological acceleration, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) culture, class, and meth addiction. What might seem to be unrelated histories and cultural expressions, rituals, or diseases, are distilled into a complex narrative that crystallizes intersections between the deeply personal and geopolitical.

Untitled (Sand), a meditative, almost mystical video work on sand, sound, wind, underscores And, Apollo's exploration of speed, technology, and time, and foreshadows the project's very specific connections to working-class Desert Americana. Riding ATVs, descendants of the lunar landing vehicle of the Apollo Missions, has a rich culture in the desert, and local ATV riders often build giant bonfires, which litter the desert terrain with translucent glass detritus. 

The glass objects on view in And, Apollo — ranging from tires to handlebars — reference the bonfires of ATV culture. Glass is also a nickname for crystal meth, which in the exhibition, is embodied in Ephedra sinica plants, containing the ephedrine used by amateurs to illegally manufacture crystal meth. Erdmann's video Glass (work in progress) weaves voice and screen logs from Apollo’s Space Command with descriptions of meth use by German World War II soldiers, and includes conversations Erdmann had with their family about meth use.

Together, the works on view become a multifaceted reflection of the artist's intimate knowledge of the desert’s physical force, its potential for radical openings and different forms of being, as well as its geopolitical complexities. In the desert landscapes of And, Apollo, Dean Erdmann discovers materialities and their transformation, queer fragmentation, and cosmic exploration. 

“In a highly poetic way, And, Apollo takes us on an associative trip through the desert that reveals deep connections between subcultures and global narratives of progress,” says Christiane Paul, Director/Chief Curator, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.

The exhibition is organized by:

Christiane Paul, Director/Chief Curator, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 

Eriola Pira, Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics 

Press preview and walk-through with the artist and Christiane Paul is scheduled for January 16, from 4 pm to 6 pm. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Vera List Center hosts Queer Archives: Between the personal and the institutional, a conversation with artists Dean Erdmann, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Carlos Motta and The New School Professor, Shannon Mattern, moderated by Christiane Paul. Monday, January 27th, 7-9 PM. 

And, Apollo: A Laboratory is a 2018-2020 Vera List Center Fellowship project and has been supported by funds, research assistance, and residencies in New York and Berlin provided by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. Additional support has been provided by Urban Glass and the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center is an award-winning campus center for Parsons School of Design that combines learning and public spaces with exhibition galleries to provide an important new downtown destination for art and design programming. The mission of the Center is to generate an active dialogue on the role of innovative art and design in responding to the contemporary world. Its programming encourages an interdisciplinary examination of possibility and process, linking the university to local and global debates. The center is named in honor of its primary benefactor, New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Member Sheila C. Johnson. The design by Rice+Lipka Architects is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is a scholarly research center and a public forum for art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992—a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society's investment in the arts. A pioneer in the field, the Center is a nonprofit that serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policymakers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change.


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