Dan Peterman

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Dan Peterman was engaged in the practice of “adaptive reuse” long before the term came into vogue. Distinct from recycling, reprocessing, and rehabbing, adaptive reuse doesn’t run materials through the consumer mill again. Instead, like the artistic practice of working with found objects, it refers to the alteration of things, often the detritus of industrial and/or commercial activity, into something new that reveals their sources while turning them to another use. When Peterman takes the kind of ubiquitous supermarket shopping cart often appropriated by homeless people and efficiently turns it into a Miesian chair, as he does in Thank You for Your Patronage: Chairs from Street Carts, 1989, his gesture seems more rehabilitative than ecological. Slightly absurd but completely functional, there is a poetry of junk here, a salvaging that, ironically, is redemptive of its original material.

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