Daniel Arsham spoke to Sarah J. Edwards on a vast array of subjects including Easter Island, fictional archaeology, hip hop, calcite, communication etiquette and his tweets.
First published online 2019, it is now available in full in print in the BLAG book, ART and an excerpt with newer works in Vol.4 Nø 1
Art is perhaps an overlooked go to experience when the quietening of the mind is required. Which, let’s face it we all need more of now that we are bombarded with so much information at such high speeds.
Some years back, I kept chancing upon images of a particular piece by an artist, Daniel Arsham, a set of solid looking turntables which were both intriguing yet simple. Turntables or decks (choose your preference) are the heart of so many joyous experiences; incredible music, shiny vinyl blended and cut by great DJs commanding a room, creating entire atmospheres and pivotal memories.
Daniel Arsham’s signature style depicted this iconic technology as ancient relics, throwing it way back to the past and offering a silence never associated with such an object. That piece was my entry point to discovering more of his work, from calcite and volcanic ash teddy bears, basketballs to architectural illusions and zen gardens. Daniel Arsham’s work whether intentional or not, captures a sense of calm, perhaps even a sense of making peace with the past.
Interview by Sarah J. Edwards Art by Daniel Arsham
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Perrotin
Photography by Guillaume Ziccarrelli
“And it’s like, [laughs] the operative line in that is, ‘no budget’, not will you make us something amazing. [Laughs]
Yeah. It’s terrible! I was really curious to know what comes first, do you set yourself a challenge and do you chill out on it or do you relax first, then the question comes to you that you want to answer.
“I mean that notion of instinct, I find that — you know especially in my own work, there are things that I’ll come across that, I’ll either note mentally or I’ll note in a notebook, that this is something interesting that I want to follow up on. It may take me years before I figure out what the use of that idea will be for. Sometimes it’s a technique, or it’s a palette of colour or a relationship of materials but, the instinct is to know that the moment is right to use that.”
“To be able to recall it, right?”
“Everything that’s ever been done or ever seen has probably be done before in some other combination or context, but I think it’s the instinct about the moment and also the instinct about, kind of about the context. You know? There’s certain pieces that I’ve waited to show because I wanted them to be in relation to other objects or in a certain place, you know? I’ve waited to show things that I’ve wanted to show in Japan and in different places because of the context. That’s the instinct there.”
[Talking about] the music side of things, I wondered if you can tell me which tracks have given you the biggest boost to go after what you want. Is there anything that gave you the energy or soundtracked things for three points in life; a moment
in childhood, where you knew what you wanted to do, graduation and then a career tipping point.
“Um, like things from back in the day or things from now?”
Well, ok, say you can think of a moment in childhood that was a really big turning point for you, which was ‘now I know what I want to do’.
“I remember really liking this Digable Planets album.”
“The first Digable Planets album which would be my earliest hip hop memory. I just remember I had that album on vinyl and it was hard to get. It was such a cool object. The design of everything, their music videos. I remember them being so amazing. Now, you look at them, they’re kind of so basic compared to what’s done now. That and the Common Sense album.”