This survey show draws on a range of disciplines, incorporating architecture, design, sculpture, film and performance. The exhibition is spanning on his entire career, with a focus on the last 10 years. Some of these works have never been presented before, like Calcified Room. Included are four at first glance ‘conventional’ architectural interventions that subtly manipulate the physical environment to create surrealistic settings. Fitness gear and objects rooted in pop culture are presented in eroded form as though excavated from some archaeological site, while swaddled animalistic figures recall the work of Christo or Man Ray, but with a playful, childlike twist.
*This exhibition in the Moco museum is organised in collaboration with Daniel Arsham and in partnership with Galerie Perrotin and Galerie Ron Mandos.
Daniel Arsham is an American artist born in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, but he grew up in Miami. He graduated from the Cooper Union in New York and received the Gelman Trust Fellowship Award in 2003. In 2004, he participated in the group show Miami Nice at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, which began representing Arsham in 2005. He now lives and works in New York City.
Arsham, until recently, was colourblind, and apparently shied away from shades other than black and white in his art. But, through a special pair of glasses he can, since 2015, also observe few of the other colours of the spectrum. Upon receiving the glasses bold, all compassing colour was introduced to his work. He mainly uses shades of blue and purple calcite crystal, and the colour really comes from the crystal itself. The Amethyst Ball Cavern is an example of this.
Quartz Cracked Face
White Quartz Eroded Patch 3 (Detail)
Arsham established Snarkitecture: a collaboration and experimental practice creating works somewhere in-between art and architecture. Interestingly, what first drew him to the subject of architecture was an incident of violent weather in his childhood. Witnessing his childhood home become the wreckage of a hurricane and seeing “what’s inside the walls” impressed upon him a fluid understanding of architecture.
After achieving his first success as a stage designer, Arsham and his architectural firm Snarkitecture quickly began collaborating with renowned artists, musicians, designers and brands. He is the first and only artist-in-residence at Adidas, and gained widespread fame following his recent collaboration with Pharrell Williams. A central element in Arsham’s work is the concept of fictional archaeology. He creates ambiguous spaces and situations, and conflates past, present and future by presenting millennial-era objects in calcified form. He is also interested in experimenting with the timelessness of symbolic objects and customs across different cultures.
Artist in Calcified Room - Connecting Time
During a visit to Easter Island in 2010,Ashram began to think about archeology as a type of fiction. In the archeological sites of Easter Island objects were uncovered and found together, some as relics and some simply as objects that were left behind by archeologists and people that had come before. Although these items may not be from the same event or time period a narrative can be build about them as a group.
This idea of a reverse engineering of archeology became of interest to Arsham, using contemporary objects to create the sense of a fictional archeological future. Many of the works in this exhibition play with the notion of a kind of future archeology and in that way, they become quite impactful in the selection of objects.
The art piece is constructed entirely of fractured, purple volleyballs and tennis balls, hundreds of them piled against each other to form a cave-like passageway. At the other end of this space, a single, full- length mirror and what Arsham has called his “future relic:” a glowing basketball mounted atop a pole, brightly lit and shining with a purple gemstone coating (amethyst-obsidian).
This is Arsham’s first fully realized architectural space. “Cavern” is brimming with themes of decay and the passage of time. Volleyballs and tennis balls, common objects in the 21st century home, are stripped from their contemporary existence and instead appear as ancient artifacts, stacked atop one another like stalagnites, broken, and coated in purple- amethyst dust.
Arsham is challenging what it means to live in the now, presenting almost paradoxical images of the commonplace objects we cherish fading into crumbling oblivion. It is impossible to venture through the exhibit without feeling an impending sense of doom, as if all of the sports balls will collapse at any given moment, and perhaps that is what Arsham is intent on proving: life as we know it is fleeting.
The single light bulb creates an aura of hidden absurdity — these concepts of time are right under people’s noses but often fail to be acknowledged. The bulb sheds a licht on the objects to foster awareness and discomfort of slowly fading relevance simultaneously.
Crystal Ball Cavern
Crystal Ball Cavern
A domestic space furnished in mid-century style but created to appear strangely petrified.
This installation, calcified room, is showcased in the Moco museum for the first time, This piece is the evocative of a cave interior scaled with minerals, or the city of Pompeii, eternally preserved in ash.
A Hiding Figure is a sculpture that consists of a human figure that appears to be behind a curtain.
The folds in the fabric have hardened in place, resembling the wet drapery technique on an ancient Greek statuary, an effort to capture in stone the diaphanousness of fabric. Arsham’s model is Man Ray’s The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920), swapping out the famous sewing machine for people or cartoon animals.
A clock hanging in the illusion of drapery on the smooth surface. With this piece Arsham experiments with the timelessness of symbols and gestures across cultures, like a clock.
This ‘elastic’ wall installation makes the museum walls come to life and therefore makes us question our assumptions of what constitutes solid forms. Solid forms become malleable and a surreality takes over from the ordinary. Arsham challenges the way we see architecture and with his creative works warps the norms of how architecture is meant to act. This work asks us to think about the properties of materials and structures.
Daniel Arsham on his work Corner Knot: “We understand that a wall has certain basic qualities. We know what it feels like, we know that it’s meant to support the roof above us, and we know that it’s hard. And by disrupting those qualities while still maintaining the physical attributes of the surface, the work appears as if it has been made out of the same material and thus the possibility of its form has been manipulated.”