Now a regular on the island, multidisciplinary artist Daniel Arsham returns this season to exhibit at Eden Rock. The opportunity to see or review photographs shown at the Territorial Museum as well as new works exclusively consigned for the Palace of St Jean’s Bay. A meeting with the artist immersed in temporal confusion.
Your work spins a lot around the question of time, the notions of present, and the future. Can you tell us about this very unique language you’ve created, playing with time and dates?
I was always fascinated with time travel in movies and books. I have integrated a lot of that into my work in the studio. This kind of confusion of time, this pushing and pulling, so that you don’t really know what time the works are located in.
Your instagram account is dated 3019. Do you feel like you are a thousand years ahead of now?
This shift from today to two thousand years in the future creates a framework for me to build a narrative from. All the people that follow my work understand this thousand year push.
You are working on a Project with The Louvre where you are recreating some Old Masters sculpture work. Do you think it is important to incorporate notions from art history in your own work?
My work has touched on issues of art history and the past. I’ve been conscious to confuse that history. I am using things that are part of what we might traditionally call art history as well as more contemporary objects that I feel are part of art history or the history of contemporary culture. I use things that I feel are important to our understanding of our current moment in time.
For your work with The Louvre you borrowed molds of some of their most precious works, like the Venus de Milo, what is your vision of replica culture?
Working with The Louvre, these are molds that are owned by the cultural arm of the French government. They have kept these molds since the nineteenth century as a way to create casts of them and send them to different museums around the world. They are a preservation method for understanding and disseminating these works. I am able to take something from the past, push it into the future, and show it today. The audience’s understanding of when or where that is from is further confused.
Over the course of your collaborations with Adidas, Pharrell Williams, Kith, Rimowa, Gentle Monster, Dior and thanks to your Instagram account, you’ve managed to create a fan community. How do you manage this social media notoriety?
The best part about social media for me is that it’s fun to work with audiences that don’t live in places that have museums. All most any city I go to there’s an audience who is able to follow the practice and ethos around the world. Today it is much easier as an artist to create this complete universe because people are able to follow so many different aspects it. Not only the work but the places I visit, the other things I am interested in. This creates a kind of complete picture for them.
Your latest collaboration with Dior by Kim Jones was a hit. Can you tell us about this collaboration, and a little bit about the Dior project as a whole?
The collaboration with Kim Jones was really about investigating the origin of Christian Dior, his early career as a gallerist, his interest in art, and focusing back on the early part of his creative practice. Kim and I looked back into the archives in Paris and spent a lot of time pulling out different reference points. The collection includes many different iterations of work where Kim has translated some of my material into these wearable objects and apparel. Working with such an elevated level of craft in Dior, it was amazing to see how they pulled that stuff off.
You also recently did a collaboration with Rimowa, creating a crystal eroded ‘Attaché” limited edition along with a street advertising with Wheat Paste posters all over New York. Can you tell us about this limited edition?
I travel a lot so I have used Rimowa cases really since I was first starting to travel for my work fifteen years ago. The origins of this project started with a visit I made to their factory in Cologne in Germany. I looked back into the archive and the history of the house. I was really fascinated with the way these cases were often used in movies to hold valuable objects: artworks, jewelry, money, in some cases like in Pulp Fiction, there’s a case but you don’t really know what’s inside of it. So I created an artwork where there’s a cast version of the case that’s housed within a case itself. These were released as a limited edition. That kind of blending between a brand and my artwork is a perfect completion of Andy Warhol’s thesis about art and every day life where you don’t know what’s what. People can ask “as an artist do you feel strange about letting a brand use your name, your artwork, to promote and sell their products?” I see at as an inverse where I am using their brand, their reach, and their resources, to further my artistic goals and the reach of my work.
During one of your travels to St Barth you made a series of photographs of the sky and stars at night. Can you tell us some more about this work of photography?
I have spent a lot of time in St Barth. I love it there. I have stayed at the Eden Rock Hotel many times. A couple of years ago I took a lot of photographs of the night sky in St Barth where you can see the stars out at night. Photography has always been a big part of my practice. It’s not something that I have ever really shown but in the context of the hotel, I think it’s interesting to see these photographs.
Your work and your ‘Future relics’ often make us think of the aftermath of a destruction. Can you tell us about this work?
It’s really about taking a contemporary object and pushing it into the future, to live and experience something potentially outside of our own lifetime.
You create installations called “zen gardens” that are your interpretation of a Japanese rock garden. What do you like about Japanese culture?
My wife is Japanese and Japan has had a huge influence on my practice, my thinking around every day life, and my relationship with objects, food, nature, clothing, everything really. There’s a concept in Japanese called omotenashi which really is about care and consideration in every aspect of daily life. I have translated that often into some of my works.
In London you showed a transparent resin surf that you designed for Hayden Shapes? Have you tried the board yet?
I did a collaboration this year with Hayden’s surf board company, who are based in Australia. We did a version of his classic board that was completely translucent and clear. Unfortunately I’m not a very good surfer so I haven’t been able to try it. Hopefully I can bring one down for my next visit in St Barth.
What is your biggest achievement this far, what are you most proud of as an artist?
My greatest accomplishment is that this year I was able to give one hundred thousand dollars back to the school that I attended. I received a full tuition scholarship to Cooper Union. I wouldn’t have been able to study art in New York city without that scholarship. Now, through my fortunate career I have been able to give that back, which will go to current students in need of financial assistance to study art in New York.
Interview by Jenny Mannerheim
Images ©Daniel Arsham & Perrotin