Dan Peterman: Sulfur Cycle 2.0

  • Turner Gallery
    Fourth Floor, Southwest Side
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Featured images

  • Gallery view of four equal stacks of drywall in front of a window.
Gallery view of four equal stacks of drywall in front of a window.
  1. Long Four stacks of light-colored materials, which appear to be drywall, are installed in a gallery setting. Each stack of drywall is about thigh high, is laid out lengthwise along an open window. The bare branches of trees and a street is visible outside the window. The bright sunshine out the window on the left side of the gallery cast shadows from the stacks along the right of the floor.
Installation view, Options 48: Dan Peterman, MCA Chicago. Nov 12–Dec 31, 1994.
Photo: James Prinz, © MCA Chicago
Dan Peterman, still from Endless Loader, 2019. Single-channel video.
Image courtesy of the artist
Installation view, Options 48: Dan Peterman, MCA Chicago
Nov 12–Dec 31, 1994

Image courtesy of the artist
Dan Peterman Accessories to an Event (plaza), 1998
Reprocessed plastic and stainless steel bolts
Dimensions variable
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Sara Albrecht and Bill Nygren, 1998.28.a-j

Photo: James Isberner, © MCA Chicago


“‘Sulfur Cycle’ now resides in the walls of the current museum. Although never formally acquired by the museum as an artwork the ton of sulfur is permanently, yet invisibly, on display.”

About the exhibition

In Sulfur Cycle 2.0, Dan Peterman (American, b. 1960) excavates the walls of an MCA gallery to reveal that the museum itself is built in part with materials produced from fossil fuels. Through this investigation, Peterman asks the viewer to think more deeply about the systems that fuel their lives: whether for their car, their home, their workplace, or their city.

In 1994, the MCA hosted Options 48: Dan Peterman, featuring a multimedia artwork titled Sulfur Cycle. The artwork was composed of six stacks of synthetic gypsum drywall, which collectively contained one ton of sulfur captured from coal-burning power plant emissions—thereby diverting this airborne pollution from entering the atmosphere. After the exhibition, Peterman intended for the drywall to be used in the construction of the building that currently hosts the museum, at 220 E Chicago Ave.

Peterman revisits this request in Dan Peterman: Sulfur Cycle 2.0 by removing pieces of the gallery walls in search of the original drywall. Using the museum building itself, Peterman demonstrates how capitalism reorganizes nature—and how fossil fuels are so ingrained in our production and consumption cycles, they disappear into the environment we occupy.

Dan Peterman: Sulfur Cycle 2.0 is organized by Jack Schneider, Curatorial Assistant, and is presented in the Turner Gallery on the museum’s fourth floor.