The point where sculpture, architecture, and performance meet, is the place that Daniel Arsham calls home, the artist is capable of great inspiration and impression. In his work, the familiar and the surreal, the architectural and the artistic, the alteration of the ancient and the re-evaluation of history are common and constant themes. He is also the co-founder of snarkitecture (a New York-based collaborative practice established to investigate the boundaries between art and architecture).
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: Perottin Gallery Archive
For “The Angle of Repose” his new exhibition at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Daniel Arsham revisits permanency while continuing to expand on his interest in Asian cultures, planetary cycles, and his own mortality, a subject inherent to his artistic practice. Since the very beginning, Arsham has worked with the notion of memory and time, intertwining his interest with architecture, while storytelling and science fiction have always held a significant importance in his work. The artist’s personal memories of surviving a hurricane in 1992 made Arsham more sensitive to this idea of finiteness and is something we encounter in his reproduction of objects that deal with obsolescence. His recent exhibition in Korea, which revolves around toys and animals, is a continuation of the artist’s Fictional Archeology series first shown in 2013. Encasing the theme of a global archeology of the future and poetic ruins, these works tread a fine line between past and future. This approach is present in Arsham’s exhibition in Paris. Never forgetting the past practice of rigorously selecting objects, placing it amongst a certain conceptual process, and then meticulously reworking them at his studio. Gritty and terrestrial globes with surfaces of the moon correspond to paintings made from sand with geometric compositions. Arsham wanted to respond and match the space in the Marais, explaining “I wanted to play with the lighting of the gallery and the way it directly or indirectly enters the space, with no connection at all with Paris’ total history”. He says the exhibition would have been the same if it had been in the United States or Asia, even if childhood remains a strong topic in Asia, topic that also inspired the toys created for his exhibition in Korea earlier this year. It’s as if he has taken some distance these last few years. Arsham is now exploring a passion for astrological timelessness and Eastern philosophies. The craters that trim his globes or sand paintings are one of his emblematic trademarks, always referring back to the idea of infinitude, as well as unsettling fragility. He adds, “In this exhibition, the question of time is seen on the one hand through the moon cycle, creating a link between this star and the decadence of objects… When it comes to the sand paintings and the gardens composed of vivid colored pigments, they come from my research on Tibetan mandalas. In Japanese culture as well, for hundreds of years these same shapes and patterns have been explored and sometimes even modernized in their composition”. Daniel Arsham finds himself more and more introspective and connected to an uchronic school of thought (if the past hadn’t been the past, what would the present or future be?). He absorbs different cultures, rides on temporalities, happily gazing in different directions, often on the sidelines of contemporary art.
Info: Perottin Gallery, 76 rue de Turenne, Paris, Duration: 14/10-23/12/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sat 11:00-19:00, www.perrotin.com