By: Joseph Licata
Daniel Arsham is a New York based artist whose work incorporates elements of architecture, performance and sculpture that will distort your understanding of space, structure and time. In addition to past shows at PS1 in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, The New Museum in New York and many others. Arsham has also collaborated with other innovators including Merce Cunningham, Pharrell Williams, Hedi Slimane and as one half of Snarkitecture with Alex Mustonen.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Cooper Union in New York City in 2003, Arsham has since created a body of work that will truly alter the way you look at the world around you. Providing a kind of conceptual filter that is rather additive to apply in everyday life.
Back from his latest solo exhibition opening, “The Future is Always Now”, at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Daniel sits down and answers a few questions for us about what is inspiring his work, the challenges of time, and his love of the sea…and Disney.
DANIEL ARSHAM | Q&A
Joseph Licata: Who/what has had the greatest influence on your work?
Daniel Arsham: Architecture as a general overarching theme is something that I am very interested in. Film has played a big part in my work. In terms of people I have been fortunate to work with many different talents across multiple disciplines. Choreographer Merce Cunningham, someone I worked with when I was very young and he gave me the chance to explore theatre, which is something I hadn’t worked in previously.
JL: Does a medium inform a concept or do your concept/ideas dictate the medium you choose to create them in?
DA: In thinking about material, material itself is a very important part of my work. I’m working in an architectural scale and I’m trying to create the sense that the work is made from the fabric of the architecture itself, that I am not necessarily adding anything, rather my work is a manipulation of something that is pre-existing, something that the audience already knows and understands in a way. It’s about the breaking or the shifting or the disruption of that expectation. Other works that use geological materials like volcanic ash or crystal, the materiality of the work are very much bound up in its potential, and the direction that it pushes.
JL: What are your goals when creating and showing works? Is there a central thought you are trying to convey?
DA: My work is never prescriptive of having a particular meaning, it is more of an invitation to travel in time or reside in an alternate space. On an architectural scale this means creating scenarios that an audience or viewer doesn’t expect and is confusing to them. And that confusion/uncertainty is really where the work lies.
JL: Your work as one half of Snarkitecture has lead to some amazing spaces, mixing art and architecture. Any plans or ambitions to switch from creating temporary space to something more permanent? If so, what do you have your heart set on?
DA: So architecture started as an expansion of my own practice into a larger scale, into public space, into architecture, and design in some cases. This has often led to collaborations with a lot of friends, many of whom are designers. We have worked on projects with Public School, with Richard Chai and many of these have taken the form of their runway shows or temporary pop up shops for them. We are, as architecture, working on a more permanent retail project that will happen in NY in the next 6 months, next fall really.
JL: What is your greatest limitation or challenge in trying to execute your more ambitious installations?
DA: I think the largest challenge in some of these larger installations is trying achieve something on a larger scale with limited time and budget but at the same time I think those limitations about scale/time/budget have pushed us to think about materials in a different way and change your understanding of how we can use things and cause things to act and perform in a different way.
JL: All this makes me wonder, what do you do outside of creating art, space and film? Guilty pleasures?
DA: I like to swim; I like to swim in the ocean.
JL: What’s something people may not know about you?
DA: I really like Disney World. A Lot! Probably one of my favorite places. I try and do a regular pilgrimage to Disney World.
JL: What are some of the things that are inspiring you right now?
DA: I am looking to people like Public School that are really building their own worlds in an existing framework. I watch a lot of film. Spike Jones’, Her, is a really big amazing piece. Music. Chromeo’s new album is something in rotation.