Patrice Aphrodite Helmar
Adam and Eve Were Astronauts
May 8 - August 1, 2021
Gaa Gallery is pleased to present Adam and Eve Were Astronauts, a site-specific installation by Patrice Aphrodite Helmar. In collaboration with the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) and Gaa Gallery, Helmar’s installation will be part of the 2021 edition of NADA House from May 8 to August 1, 2021.
At the turn of the last Century, Patrice Aphrodite Helmar’s father buried a time capsule in an Igloo ice cooler in her family’s backyard in Alaska. The cooler contained a wooden toolbox placed between two boulders. It was 1999, and Y2K had everyone holding their breath as to how the world might change. Would computers shut down? Would chaos ensue?
Wrapped obsessively with white packing tape and sealed with nails, the capsule was dug up during the summer of 2020. Contained in the time capsule are a Blockbuster card, marbles, human hair carefully collected and labeled with the age at the time of collection from two of Helmar’s father’s closest friends, plastic toys from the 1920s to 1980s, an album of photographs taken in 1999, party hats from a New Year’s Eve party, a pair of reading glasses, coins, among other artifacts. These items, carefully chosen in 2000 to be preserved and carried through time, map Umberto Eco’s proposal, “that every cultural phenomenon may be studied as communication.” In the time capsule, a portrait of a time and a message from the past revealed.
Comprised of a performance, a map of artifacts, and a related display of objects, Adam and Eve Were Astronauts, arranges the objects from the time capsule in a study of semiotics, object permanence, and cultural artifact. Installed to include handmade paintings of the objects created in 2021 and dirt collected from the time of excavation, echo notions of site, and the resonance of objects. In this installation, transmissions from the past are received in the present and projected into the future. In displaying these artifacts and contextualizing them through an installation Helmar and her father reveal the importance of symbols, artifacts, and objects that a society can knowingly or unknowingly leave behind.
Patrice Aphrodite Helmar (b. 1981, Juneau, Alaska) is a New York-based photographer and curator currently residing in Juneau, Alaska. Helmar has shown widely, including at the Jewish museum, Ortega Y Gasset Projects, Z-Ranch LA, Gaa Gallery, Houston Center of Photography, and the National Museum of Iceland. Helmar has taught at Columbia University, Rutgers, and was a public school teacher in Alaska. Helmar is currently faculty at Fordham University and a Visiting Professor at the Pratt Institute. She is the curator of the Marble Hill Camera Club, and the Backyard Biennial. Helmar was a nominee for the Rema Hort Mann and Henri-Cartier-Bresson Prize, and a recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship and the PrattFaculty Fund. She earned her MAT in Secondary Education from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2013, and graduated from Columbia University in 2015 with an MFA in Visual Arts. Helmar has been a visiting artist and critic at Harvard University, Hamilton, Columbia University, SUNY New Paltz, University of Arkansas, Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar, and other institutions. Helmar's work has been featured in Artforum, The New YorkReview of Books, Gayletter, The Reservoir Quarterly, The Boston Art Review, Art F City, VICE, and The Huffington Post.