Olivia Erlanger: If Today Were Tomorrow is the artist’s first solo museum presentation in the United States. Across an installation, a video, and a series of commissioned sculptures, Erlanger continues her decade-long disruption of the “semiotics of suburbia.” In her practice, Erlanger thinks of the home as a greater ecosystem containing not only houses but also their surrounding infrastructures and interior architectures.
At Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), massive illuminated planet sculptures map the suburban landscape, positioning the development of home as an environmental force in itself. These new works explore “speculative memory”—how progress can only be understood through hindsight—and what this psychic limitation implies for the artist. Viewers will then move to new diorama sculptures that play on an institutional language of presentation, positioning the enclosed scenes as already-past. Here, Erlanger proposes both impossible architectures and terrestrial forms created using strategies of model-making. These works are each marked by changes in season, emphasizing receding memories of a once-diverse climate.
The exhibition culminates in a sitcom set, riffing on the psychology of interiors as well as acting as a platform to watch Erlanger’s new short film Appliance. The film dovetails recent research into the history and cultural significance of domestic technologies, such as the shower or washing machine, with a specific focus on how their operations have been considered interchangeably with human bodily functions. In our age of “polycrisis,” wherein multiple seismic events occur simultaneously, If Today Were Tomorrow provides a framework for thinking about the porousness of interior and exterior, self and non-self, body and home.
Olivia Erlanger: If Today Were Tomorrow will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Hatje Cantz containing newly commissioned texts about the artist’s practice, as well as contributions focusing on the interplay between architecture, psychology, and science fiction.
Major support for Olivia Erlanger: If Today Were Tomorrow is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston is funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.