Daniel Arsham in Amsterdam

The American artist is currently displaying his work at the Ron Mandos gallery

By NATALIA DERCZ

Daniel Arsham is a 39-year-old contemporary artist based in New York. His work is a combination of art, architecture, design and performance. Thanks to his interdisciplinary interests, over the course of his career he has partnered up with artists such as the musician Pharrell Williams and the famous choreographer, Merce Cunningham. Arsham’s work is temporarily displayed in the Ron Mandos Gallery on Prinsengracht and the Moco Museum at Museumplein.


The Ron Mandos gallery is the first location in the Netherlands in which Arsham’s work has been exhibited. Its ‘Static Mythologies’ exhibition represents objects from popular culture made with geological substances: glacial rock, volcanic ashes, rose quartz and obsidian. Objects such as basketballs and a football helmet made of the above substances are meant to illustrate how future generations might see these everyday items, items that we don’t think about twice. The choice of objects was not accidental. We see them on the covers of magazines or in sports games watched by millions; Arsham selected these specific items as they are known to mass audiences across the world.

Courtesy of the Amsterdammer

The most important piece of the exhibition is the Lunar Garden, inspired by Arsham’s visits to the Japanese city of Kyoto. The artist’s inspiration for the installation is the fact that each time he goes to see the city’s zen gardens, they always seem the same, not touched by passing time. Arsham sees the Lunar Garden as a space in which one can contemplate on the concept of time and evanescence.

 

David Arsham’s other exhibition in Amsterdam is ‘Connecting Time’, displayed in the Moco Museum is based on his view of archaeology as a type of fiction. During a visit to the Easter Islands a few years ago, the author thought of the idea to reverse engineer archaeology. He wanted to create a fictional archaeological future, using objects that we know and use in modern culture today. One of the pieces is a laptop, which technically is a modern invention.

However, the device clearly comes from a few years ago, highlighting how we already look at it as if it was some kind of a historical artefact. In this way, Arsham associates his work closely with the concept of the passing of time.

Arsham associates his work closely with the concept of the passing of time

The exhibition also involves a ‘Fictional Nonfictional’ section, in which the audience can see everyday objects but placed in a context of both fiction and non-fiction at the same time. Most of the items are familiar to the audience; however, they are displayed in a way that is surprising and new.

 

‘Connecting Time’ at Moco Museum can be seen until September 30. The tickets for the museum can be purchased through its website. Along with Arsham’s exhibition, the Moco Museum also holds the chance to see the works of other artists such as Banksy, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. The ‘Static Mythologies’ exhibition at the Ron Mandos gallery is available until March 16 and is free of charge.