Commonwealth and Council


Danielle Dean


Commonwealth & Council presents a new installation of sculptures and video work by Danielle Dean that continues her investigation of the circumlocutional rhetoric of political speech, commercial advertising, and the violent materialities they both generate and are predicated on.

Situated within Dean’s Third Ward apartment in Houston, Texas, Hexafluorosilicic engages the co-constitution of fiction, fact, ideology, language, and the body as simultaneously promising and threatening dimensions of techno-scientific normativity and representations of radical otherness. Dean explores their embeddedness within contemporary narratives of capital, social change, the management of public health, and regimes of private well-being through the common use of hexafluorosilicic acid (sodium fluoride) in consumer culture.

The long-standing corporate and governmental use of fluoridation in water, toothpaste, and other consumer products for the purposes of improving the population’s dental health has generated a variety of conspiracy theories, from charges of brainwashing to social domestication. Dean’s focus, however, is not to condemn or dwell on the contested use of mass-fluoridation, but rather to reflect on the productive nature of modern forms of control and its ensuing narratives of monstrosity—both positive and negative. Sodium fluoride, in fact, originally resulted as an unwanted chemical-corporate surplus yet then became a social common representing universal well-being, such as healthy 'white' teeth. Through the notion of social, political, and chemical composition, Dean explores the topology of health and death as radically materialistic, and highly ambivalent, psychological constructions.

Advertising, Dean’s work suggests, both preys on and configures a techno-culture of pervasive violence composed of social relations, signs and affects, as much as the overarching values, ideals, and material chemicals that persist through and beyond them. Hexafluorosilicic shows the construction—and the noxious, sublime appeal—of sameness and otherness in a stasis of turbulent potentiality.

Working in video, performance, installation, and drawing, Danielle Dean explores the potential for socially constructed narratives, such as racism, to be retold through hybrid scripts sourced from political speeches and commercial slogans. Dean received a BFA from Central Saint Martins in London, an MFA from CalArts, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing in 2012. She is a recent fellow of the Whitney Independent Study Program and is currently completing her fellowship at the Core Program in Houston. Her work has been exhibited at Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. 2014, DiverseWorks, Western Exhibitions, The Bindery Projects, and Auto Italia South East. She is a recipient of the Emerging Artist Grant from Rema Hort Mann Foundation in 2014.

This exhibition has been made possible by generous support of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant, Sony Pictures’ Colorworks, Chloë Flores and Tim Lefevre at GuestHaus Residency, and Michelle Papillion.