I’ve been a huge fan of Arsham’s work for quite some time now. My first experience with his work was during a casual Instagram scrolling session where I noticed a piece of his that had a body falling through the ceiling. A staple of Arsham’s sculptural manipulations I would later find out those manipulations are currently on full display at the Perrotin Gallery at 130 Orchard Street, for his “3018” exhibition. I had a chance to pop in and finally get to see some of his work in-person.
What a sight it is!
The gallery’s first floor transforms into Arsham’s garage with 2 iconic vehicles on display alongside a junk-yard pile of what many would consider iconic objects as well. All these objects have been eroded and decayed in this dystopian future. A 1981 Delorean, used as the basis for the flying vehicle from the Back to the Future films, and the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off are corroded and blanketed with vibrant crystals. The eroded gaps are filled with volcanic ash, pyrite crystal, selenite, and quartz. The cars themselves are made out of a combination of stainless steel, glass reinforced plastic, quartz crystal, pyrite, paint. It’s safe to say Arsham is pretty comfortable with these materials and that comfort level is on full display throughout the exhibition.
If the cars don’t bring back a little nostalgia for you, the junk-yard pile of objects will do the trick. Several objects in the pile definitely took me back in time. There’s a nice little touch with how the pile of objects transforms from a top deep ashy black to a more settled white at the bottom. You could really spend a whole lot of time just picking out different objects in the bunch.
The exhibition continues on the 3rd floor of the gallery where there are no “people coming out of the walls” type of work that I was hoping to see, but there is an appropriate exclamation of the word “FUTURE” pushing out one wall. Fits right into the overall theme of the exhibition, even felt like it carried some malice with it. Arsham uses a combination of plaster, foam, and paint to execute on the visual manipulation.
Facing the “FUTURE” pop-out are 2 characters resembling Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse roped up and restrained. "The folds in the fabric have hardened in place, resembling the wet drapery technique on an ancient Greek statuary, an effort to capture in stone the diaphanousness of fabric," said the gallery. After a little bit of research, I found out that these displays are actually a nod to Man Ray’s The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920) which is a piece that features a sewing machine wrapped in the same fashion as Arsham’s recognizable cartoon characters. Man Ray was an American visual artist who was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements. The 3rd floor is rounded out by a row of miniature cartoon characters wrapped and restrained across from other toons cast in hydrostone and quartz as two-dimensional wall hangings.
Overall “3018” is a great display of Arsham’s work for anyone new to his art, but equally satisfying to anyone who has been following his work. Arsham is a man of many talents and you can really see how his involvements with sculpture, architecture, film, and performance helped inspire and guide the basis of this exhibition. The exhibition is his fifteenth with Perrotin since joining the gallery in 2005. The show runs through October 21st so there’s still time to catch it!
More about the artist:
New York based artist Daniel Arsham straddles the line between art, architecture, and performance. Raised in Miami, Arsham attended the Cooper Union in NYC where he received the Gelman Trust Fellowship Award in 2003. Architecture is a prevalent subject throughout his work; environments with eroded walls and stairs going nowhere, landscapes where nature overrides structures, and a general sense of playfulness within existing architecture. Arsham makes architecture do things it is not supposed to do, mining everyday experience for opportunities to confuse and confound our expectations of space and form. Structural experiment, historical inquiry, and satirical wit all combine in Arsham’s ongoing interrogation of the real and imagined