Artist Daniel Arsham on His Fluid Perception of Time, Art, and Fashion

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Is anything ever what it appears to be? That is what artist Daniel Arsham asks when he is making art, whether if that is a collaboration on a pair of 3-D printed shoes with Adidas, or a new exhibition that just as well could be set in a distant (or near) future as in a post-apocalyptic present.

In fact, not knowing what is what and when is when is the exact feeling one gets when walking into Arsham’s new exhibition, titled “3018,“ which opened this past weekend at Galerie Perrotin in New York. In the middle of the room is a dumpster-like pile (covered in a layer of ash-like dust) filled with objects from the past (VHS tapes, rotary dial phones, Blackberries, and cameras) as a nostalgic nod to the early 2000s.

Arsham’s intention is, indeed, to confuse. „I think the works create confusion about time and that confusion is intentional,“ he tells CR. “I want to invite people to think about time as a construct and to have the ability to be dislocated within in it.”

He sat down with CR to talk about art, fashion and how social media has brought the two closer than ever before.

Your new exhibition is called „3018“ which makes me relate it to 2018. What was the thought behind this name?
„A lot of the works are projections of the future, of a fictional archeology, and they create a scenario where, as viewer, you might be dislocated in time. You could be a 100 years in the future or you could be a one thousand years in the future, I like the idea that this exhibition is jumping one thousand years from the date of the opening of it.“

How did the process of designing a pair of shoes compare with creating a piece of art?
„I went back into their archive and found things that I either thought were relevant for me, or that I thought would be for my audience. The design process was about curating a portion of their archive, thinking about the past, present, and future, and about the advancement of technology in the creation of shoes since the company was founded. The third shoe I designed is 3-D printed, so compared to the technology they’ve used in the past, that’s a new thing for them.”

Your art has an ability to be very approachable and interactive with people, much like architecture and fashion is, if done successfully. Was there anything that initially inspired you to make art that alludes to aspects of real life?
„I think the work is quiet in a way, you might walk into the room and not really notice it. And I often use icons, objects which are icons, which create the impression of being approachable, because they are things we all know and have a familiarity with. I see that as an invitation to think about the work… and it certainly is approachable, both culturally and geographically. I can do this exact same show in Beijing, Tokyo, or Brazil and the audience would have similar reactions to it.“

If fashion is wearable art, do you believe that art also could be considered fashion? Where do you think the line is drawn between art that you wear, and art that you look at?
„Everything is blended now. There is a kind of equalizing factor that has come in the past five years, purely from social media I think, that has made different disciplines of creative production sit on the same kind of field. Partially that has to do with the apps themselves and how information is communicated, but another part is that it has created a community where there is a lot of people in this universe who I [as an artist] know through social. That community is certainly influential in my way of thinking about what I produce and how it’s seen and who is experiencing it.“

Why do you think we’ve recently seen more and more artists dip into fashion (i.e Jeff Koons for Louis Vuitton and Keith Haring for Coach)?
„I think people think about fashion in a different way than they do about art. Maybe fashion a bit more accessible and people feel more comfortable with it. And I think that, if I can engage that as an artist, it is certainly useful. In the collaborations I’ve done within fashion, it’s often for me about engaging an audience that is not necessarily aware of the art world, and through this channel, I am able to show them this universe.“

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