Interviews
Daniel Arsham
Artist and Co-founder of Snarkitecture
Patrick McMullan

You continue to have a major impact on art, fashion, and architecture with your multiple creative outlets. What’s your secret to success, for all creative fronts?

I think curiosity is something that continues to drive me in many of the projects I’m trying to execute or ideas I want to work through. You know, I’m constantly trying to make things I want to see exist in the world and I figure, hopefully, if I want to see them exist, other people may want to as well.

From your monumental “Blue Garden” in Rio to Future Relic ’08, what are the biggest art challenges you’ve faced this year?

Certainly the exhibition in Rio and the massive museum show that I just opened in Moscow both contained works on a monumental scale. These works are often partially segregated within my city of New York and then transported to locations in Russia and in Rio. I think the coordination of that and really making sure that these works are executed up to the level of quality that I expect for myself is one of the larger challenges. And you know, trying to be in three different continents in a week and a half opening exhibitions is also insane right now. I’m trying not to think about jet lag right now.

Tell us about your first-ever footwear collaboration with adidas. What was the experience like?

I mean the great experience for me, I think, is much of the same way that I have brought into my works across disciplines… in painting, sculpture, film, architecture and stage design. I think that working on this collaboration of the sneakers is a way to engage in the audience and speaking about my larger practice, some of whom were certainly familiar with my work before as well as others who do not come from that background. I think that anytime when I can create a scenario where I am reaching audiences from different backgrounds could be a very interesting way of creating dialogue and inciting people to think about the work. Part of the big push with the adidas project was, in some way, less about the shoe and more about this film project that I’ve been working on: “The Houglass Film.” We’re continuing on with that; so, the next part will be announced soon.

Speaking of Hourglass, what film projects are you currently working on? There are two separate film projects. The Hourglass film is related to the adidas project I have been working on and Future Relic is this larger film related to the Future Relic object I’ve been making. Mahershala is involved in the Future Relic project… in the section which I have not yet released. We’re in the process of determining what and how that is going to be shown, but it should be interesting.

What are your thoughts on artists collaborating with brands? Does the meaning of the artwork change?

I think that in some ways I am inside of that universe and in many ways I’m not. Oftentimes when critics are looking at work within the art world, they’re talking about it from the perspective of architecture since many of them know my work from the stage design that I created with Merce Cunningham, you know, who had a lineage that went back to Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and that whole universe. I think, from the art world, they often look at my work from that perspective. But in many ways, because of this cross-filtering of everything from fashion and film to even streetwear and sneakers, they’re blending in a way that I think is interesting and someway creates a scenario where a lot more people are looking at artwork through my generation and the younger generation. I think that’s great and it’s an amazing opportunity for artists like myself to engage wider audiences and thinking about artwork.

What are you working on currently? Any upcoming projects?

The exhibitions people are seeing today are often things I’ve been working on for, you know, the last two, three, in some cases 10 years. In one of the major works exhibited in Moscow, I first began thinking about it at least 10 years ago. Sometimes it just takes a long time to not only have the space to execute something but also the knowledge and ability to craft something in that way. So, you know, there are tons of different things that are sitting on my desk that may or may not be artworks in the future.

What are some things you can’t live without?

That I can’t live without… I’m looking around at my desk… certainly my notebook. I mean I like an automatic... non-digital functioning watch, my notebook, and probably a good pair of sunglasses.

 
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