And, Apollo: A Laboratory


January 16, 2020 - February 11, 2020

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 23, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Related Public Programs

Queer Archives: Between the Individual and the Institutional – a conversation

Monday, Jan 27, 2020
7:00-9:00 p.m.
The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, Room 202
Free with registration.

The Magnus Hirschfeld Institute for Sexual Science (ISS) was founded in 1919 in Berlin as a communal, sexual, political, and emotional space for people of different genders and orientations. In 1933, the ISS was the target of an early Nazi raid, and the spectacular bonfire of its books and holdings began the horrific destruction of its idealist commitment to queer ways of being. In the wake of this violent destruction, the Magnus Hirschfeld Society now pursues the seemingly impossible task of recuperating the Institute, its history, its memory, its research, and its books.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics hosts a conversation about archives in general and queer approaches to archives in particular with artists Dean Erdmann, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Carlos Motta, and scholar Shannon Mattern. Moderated by Christiane Paul, Chief Curator and Director of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design, this conversation takes Erdmann’s work with archives, both their own family’s archive and that of the Magnus Hirschfeld Society’s, as a starting point for discussing artistic and queer approaches to individual and institutional archives or their absence. After an introduction to some key considerations on archives by New School professor Shannon Mattern, each artist presents their approaches to working with archives and queer reparative strategies.

Taken together their work points to a queer life that took place outside of institutionalized forms of history-making and offer queer interventions in the ways in which we can think about the making and re-shifting of narratives, especially as they intersect with the histories of race, colonialism, and illiberalism.

And, Apollo: A Laboratory, a work in progress by artist and Vera List Center Fellow Dean Erdmann, combines experimental documentary, video, and sculptures to connect autobiography to historical pasts that have produced current moments of social and political crisis. The narrative of And, Apollo is anchored in the Mojave Desert, the place where the artist grew up and the background for their exploration of Americana, the body, and queerness.

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 the geopolitical.

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.

The exhibition is organized by Christiane Paul (Director/Chief Curator, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center) with Eriola Pira (Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics).

Support has been provided by the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and Urban Glass.