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Dan Peterman

Love Podium (travel version)

September 16 to November 7, 2018
Potsdamer Str. 97, 10785 Berlin

Originally conceived in 2006, Dan Peterman’s sculpture and performance work Love Podium testifies to the myriad forms and circuits through which democracy takes shape. In a time when the struggle between right and leftist politics has returned to Europe with grave consequences, Peterman’s political playfulness can be understood as a welcoming antidote, to virulent political tribalism.
The first iteration of Love Podium comprised two speech podiums, arranged in opposite directions on a platform, and constructed from planks of recycled plastic. When visitors assumed these oppositional positions and began speaking, a literally conflicted discourse ensued, with their words clashing and rhyming unpredictably. As with the current version of Love Podium – wherein artists and musicians have taken the role of speakers – this socially activated sculpture produced a condensed echo of democracy’s actual character: spirited and conflicted, confused and harmonious.

Above all, Love Podium is a work of art that – as opposed to traditional forms of propaganda or pedagogy – foregoes prescriptions for political thought or action. Instead, it lends evocative form to the ever contingent nature of democracy itself. The work’s recycled material gives political resonance to the relationship between form and content, by which the piece is anchored in an ethos of modern sculpture. Any attempt at politics, this material implicitly suggests, must comprehend the ecological concerns upon which society itself rests. Equally important, is how the dense, ultra-resilient plastic serves the work’s physical behaviour, enabling its perfomative space to be relocated and re-imagined in perpetuity. The current iteration of Love Podium places further emphasis on this function. It is built from small, custom produced crates, that can be used as furniture within inventive configurations, or to ship small works of art. In this way, the work’s innate politics are drawn into literal channels of distribution and exchange.

The inclusion of artists in Love Podium signals the renewed importance of revisiting art’s – but not dictating – art’s relationship to the social field. Bolstering a wider conversation about where we find the boundaries of politics, these artists’ contributions range from the ambiguously to overtly political. Participants include Mareike Begner, Kasia Fudakowski, Annika Kahrs,Wilhelm Klotzek, The Performance Agency and Eric Winkler.

In late September, at the Art Berlin fair, Peterman’s work Accessories to an Event, which comprises platforms and benches again made from recycled plastic, will be shown alongside a project from Wilhelm Klotzek, that creates reliefs of Imbiss snack huts which are unexpected and unpredictable sites of social exchange, in German cities. In this way, Peterman’s work becomes implicated in an ongoing and crucial conversation, which seeks to elaborate our understanding of how political space, like art itself, can be imagined. (Text by Mitch Speed)

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