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Chicago-based artist Dan Peterman presents work at DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Dan Peterman, Love Podium, 2006. Post-consumer reprocessed plastics, stainless steel hardware. Courtesy of the artist and Klosterfelde, Berlin.

LINCOLN, MASS.- DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum presents PLATFORM 10: Dan Peterman, the tenth project in the PLATFORM series. Since the 1980s, Chicago-based artist Dan Peterman has worked at the intersection of art and ecology. Through the creation of minimal sculptures, installations, and functional objects that often rely upon reclaimed, reconfigured, or recycled materials, Peterman explores how art can be at once critical and poetic, socially engaged and subtly provocative.

As part of the ongoing PLATFORM series, in which artists are invited to present work which responds to deCordova’s unique indoor and outdoor spaces, Peterman has sited his reprocessed plastic sculpture—Love Podium (2006)—on the Main Entrance Plaza of the museum as a functional stage for visitor debates and spoken word performances. Love Podium is a stark grey platform fashioned from plastic planks, with not one, but two podiums facing outward in opposite directions. From September 2, 2012–October 1, 2013, this once-silent sculpture will speak through the voices of the public, who are invited to step up to and bring it to life for the very first time.

Inspired by the spirit of the 2012 Presidential election season, this special presentation of Peterman’s Love Podium will foster dialogue about the important issues of our time and prompt audiences to consider the ramifications of speaking without being heard. Building on the idea that contemporary culture is rife with differing opinions and values, and that a true democracy is one in which all voices are equal, Peterman’s sculpture quite literally presents and problematizes what it means to be a polarized electorate.

To participate in Peterman’s project, two speakers stand back to back on the platform and simultaneously read aloud their opposing views on a single topic. The experience becomes a transformative one for both speakers and listeners, underscoring the art of rhetoric as well as the benefits of close listening. While the museum will provide a variety of sample texts for the public, visitors are encouraged to bring their own two-person debates and recite them aloud on the platform.

All topics are welcome and can range from current hot-button issues in the town of Lincoln to historical disagreements or even classic sports rivalries. The more diverse the debates, the better Love Podium can fulfill its potential as a site for civic dialogue.

Love Podium reinforces the fact that art can be a platform for social engagement – a current that runs through Peterman’s thirty year practice. His installations meld artistic, social, and environmental issues with real-world opportunities for imaginative re-use. More specifically,

Love Podium stems from Peterman’s use of post-consumer plastics. Concerned with the sheer amount of plastic waste a single person generates in a year, Peterman created a variety of stark utilitarian objects (shelving units, picnic tables, dance floors) and situated them in the spaces of the city. The resulting sculptures are functionally, aesthetically, and philosophically sound; conversation pieces that foster community connection. Such works, Love Podium included, extend the communicative power of sculpture well beyond the realm of fine art into the broad spaces of contemporary culture, where they prompt us to explore our collective ecological, social, and civic responsibilities.

Dan Peterman lives and works in Chicago. He received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1983 and his MFA from the University of Chicago in 1986. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Venice Biennial, Italy; Van Abbemuseum , Eindhoven, Netherlands; Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, IL; among other venues. Peterman is an Associate Professor in the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a founder and director of the Experimental Station, an innovative, Chicago-based incubator of small scale enterprise and cultural projects ( He is recipient of the University Scholar Award from UIC; and has been awarded grants from Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.

Dan Peterman is represented by Galerie Klosterfelde, Berlin, Germany and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY.

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