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The Calm

After The Storm Words: Coco Marett Images: Daniel Arsham courtesy of Galerie Periotin

In August 1992, 12 year-old Daniel Arsham hid in a reinforced closet as Hurricane Andrew shook his hometown of Miami to its knees; an event that planted the seed for much of the inspiration behind his artwork today.

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it’s less about trying to predict and more of an invention, it’s an alternate story and in some way it’s a fantasy about our current moment and how it can be perceived.

D

aniel Arsham’s most recent exhibition at Galerie Perrotin in Hong

Kee: Architecture is obviously a significant influence in your artwork, so much

Kong – his first ever in China – is titled ‘Future Archive’ and showcases

so that you founded ‘Snarkitecture’. What exactly is that?

glistening sculptures made from rubble and debris including shattered

Daniel Arsham: It’s a conceptual design and architecture practice that in many

glass, volcanic ash, steel and crystal. A row of payphones, a film reel,

ways operates between art and architecture. It started because I was working on a

an old cockpit and other items, including life-sized sculptures of Arsham himself,

project with Hedi Slimane. Whenever I’m doing work in a gallery or museum, like

are replicated as relics to be found in an imaginary future. “It’s taking something

with what I did for ‘Future Archive’, it’s very free and I’m able to do whatever I want.

from the recent past and projecting it over the current moment into the future,” says

But when I’m working in a public space, or on a larger scale project, there are other

the artist, who is now based in New York. “In some ways I’m erasing the present.”

considerations like building codes that make things not always possible. ‘Snarkitecture’ really started as a way to bring an architect into my studio and allow those larger

Arsham’s ‘Future Archive’ exhibition also plays with architecture, another of the multi-media artist’s passions. Through curious interactions with the gallery’s wall

gestures to happen, within these sets of rules and departments.

surface, sculptures and installations create the illusion of reconstructing architectural

Kee: Tell us about ‘Future Archive’.

structures into unusual and unnatural forms They wrinkle, ripple and breach the

DA: The show brings together different bodies of work from the last year and a half,

viewer’s concept of reality.

I would say the link between all of the works is that I’m taking things that everyone knows and have expectations about, and altering their perception of them. So in

“Architectural transformation is something I experienced in a very violent and fast

the case of the figure that appears to be concealed behind a wall, it’s a transformation

way during the storm,” he says, perched on the bay windows of Galerie Perrotin and

of the surface of the architecture, making it act and feel, do something that it shouldn’t

looking out as dusk sets in over the skyline. “A lot of the pieces I do that manipulate

do.

architecture do so in a much more quiet, contemplative, slow and peaceful way.

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Whenever I’m doing work in a gallery or museum, like with what I did for Future Archive, it’s very free and I’m able to do whatever I want.

The two white pieces, the camera and the payphone, are part

so quiet you could almost walk into a room and not necessarily even notice they are there. They have this

of a larger body of work that takes items of communication,

kind of uncanny power about them that is provocative in a darker way than the pieces look upon first

from our recent past – things we don’t necessarily use any

inspection.

more – and makes them appear as if they have been uncovered in some future archaeological dig. Part of this is the erosion

Kee: You’ve worked in a lot of different mediums, is there anything you particularly enjoy?

of the material or object and the other part is the transformation

DA: It’s always the newest one that’s the most fun.

of the original into this new material. These pieces are cast in crystal, a material that has a relationship to time and geology. Kee: What do you think people will make of this generation from what they do find in the future?

DA: For me it’s less about trying to predict and more of an invention, it’s an alternate story and in some way it’s a fantasy

Kee: And what would that be right now? DA: Film. I’ve been working on a film for the last year that will premier at Art Basel Miami Beach. It takes one of these objects and follows the discovery of it in a potential future and creates a narrative around that. I was able to work with some amazing collaborators on this, as film is a medium that you’re not able to do by yourself in many ways.

about our current moment and how it can be perceived. I’m

Kee: Who are you working with?

less interested in saying, for instance, “Oh, this thing is

DA: All of the costuming for this project was done by Korean-American designer Richard Chai, and the

antiquated or outdated”, and more interested in presenting

score for the film was done by American producer Swizz Beatz.

an invented future. Kee: What’s the thrill in reinventing or reforming something that already exists?

Kee: Did you have a pretty wild imagination as a kid? DA: I was very interested in photography as a child, specifically black and white photography. That, to me, was art.

DA: I suppose that my job as an artist is to take people out of their everyday experience, to transform their notions and experiences, and I do that by taking things that they already know and creating very subtle shifts. Some of these pieces are

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