Interview with Daniel Arsham
Dislocating people in time
In honor of his upcoming exhibition Static Mythologies at Galerie Ron Mandos and his book signing at MENDO on Saturday 12 January from 2.30PM – 3.30PM, we had a chance to talk with multidisciplinary artist Daniel Arsham about his work, the notion of time, and Amsterdam.
Architecture, decor, sculptures, fashion, installations; Daniel Arsham pretty much does it all. With a career spanning over a decade, the New York-based artist has made a name for himself that exceeds any niche or discipline. In 2018 Arsham released two books: Snarkitecture – covering all his architectural design work he did with partner Alex Mustonen – and Arsham, the monograph book that covers his entire career.
Hi Daniel, what was the process of making this book like for you?
This book was really looking back over the last two decades of work and trying to create a kind of compendium for people who may have only seen one or two exhibitions showing the broad scope of the work and also mixing the sort of levels of the hierarchy of how I work so everything from sneakers with Adidas to exhibitions in museums globally.
You released two books within one year. What are the boundaries between “Snarkitecture” and “Daniel Arsham”?
This was a question early on and we have come to define it by function really. If an object has specific purpose it is often relegated to Snarkitecture. If an object has ambiguous purpose, it can often be within my studio so we can say that it definitely serves a purpose but that purpose is undefined, can be created by the viewer. I don’t have any preference in terms of my disciplines. I love working in many different areas.
We have read that you are colorblind, how do you deal with that in your work?
My color blindness for me has always been something that has receded into the background but more recently, I began to explore it as a means of the selection of materials within my work. The limitation of palette of what I know I can see, right? I want to be able to look at something and know that what I’m seeing is what others are seeing as well so that I can properly execute whatever it is I’m trying to do.
What inspires you?
I travel a lot. Travel is certainly something that inspires me, it keeps me thinking about the world around me.
Are there any (young) artists in particular who inspire you currently?
I look at a lot of young artists from designers like Sabine Marcelis, to people working in fashion like Samuel Ross, to more traditional painters like Reginald Sylvester or Alex Gardner.
What is the idea behind “Static Mythologies”?
The Static Mythologies exhibition at Ron Mandos includes both an exhibition of installation of one of my zen gardens, as well as cast fictional archaeological objects. I despise titling exhibitions and artwork for that matter so we’ve come up with a system in the studio where words are selected somewhat at random from things that I’ve said in interviews or in books in the past and they are combined through chance so Static and Mythologies are both things I’ve used and they came together by chance for this show.
Time seems to be central theme in your work. Why is that?
I’ve always been fascinated with time, time travel, and science fiction. All of that is a factor in the same way that I enjoy playing with people’s notion of architecture and their expectations about it. I do the same or I attempt to do the same with time, to try to dislocate people in time.
How does that tie into your own aging as a person and artist?
I don’t think it really has anything to do with my own aging. I still feel like I’m in high school.
‘I still feel like I’m in high school.’
‘I still feel like I’m in high school.’
Your work is heavily influenced by (and perhaps even part of) pop culture in general. What does that mean for your position as an artist in the art world?
I think that the role of an artist is really to kind of evaluate culture, and evaluate people’s position within the world – whether that relates to politics, fashion, ecology, film, cinema, or music and sometimes all of those things. I use my work personally as a way to explore what I think about the world and all of the fascinating things that occur within it.
Does the art world value you as much as the fashion world, for example? And is that important to you?
I think I operate a little bit outside of the art world or sort of between it and other universes. Within the art world, I think I’m thought of more as an architect – architecture world thought more of an artist – in the fashion world I don’t know what I’m thought of but still working on that.
What is your relationship to Amsterdam?
I’ve been going there for many years. I’ve been working with Ron probably going on 10 years now. I’ve always found the city to have a vibrant culture. Sneakers have always been a big thing there and I think the community between kind of street culture, art, and music have all blended there in a way that speaks to me and hopefully my work speaks to as well.
Booksigning and exhibition
Daniel Arsham has been signing his books at MENDO on Saturday 12 January 2019, from 2.30PM – 3.30PM. Arsham’s exhibition Static Mythologies opens at Galerie Ron Mandos on the same day and will continue until 16 March 2019.
To celebrate our upcoming book with The Avocado Show, MENDO had a lunch date with its founder Ron Simpson to “peel” the success of the Avocado Show.
In light of the release of LIFE = CRAZY, we talked with the protagonist himself: Martin Garrix.
In January of 2018, DENHAM released the book A Decade of DENHAM, in collaboration with MENDO. We talked to DENHAM's art director Ali Kirby, driving force behind the book, about…
Apartamento "the world's hippest magazine", celebrated their ten year anniversary with a book; The World of Apartamento. In honor of this release, MENDO had a Q&A with co-founder and designer…
In our series Shelf Sessions we climb the shelves of some of MENDO's friends. In this episode: Jochem Leegstra, co-founder and creative director at ...,staat.
The first MENDO publication of 2019 is a fact: Frame/Work, created in collaboration with Union, is a book that inspires every young metropolitan citizen.
Saturday 12 January 2019: book signing session with Daniel Arsham. 2.30 - 3.30 PM at MENDO, Berenstraat 11 Amsterdam.
There is no better way to see movie stars and musicians than through the lens of the Grand Dame of colourful, staged portraits: Annie Leibovitz.
Renowned photographer Jimmy Nelson will sign the long-awaited sequel to Before They Pass Away at our Berenstraat flagship store, from 14:00-16:00 on Sunday 23 September. MENDO chats with Jimmy about…
We had a moment to talk with Colette, the mastermind behind most of the recipes you’ll find in The Avocado Show book.
Visual Inspiration #3 is all about the use of Illustrations in books.
Shaka brah! Every summer eventually comes to an end, even this one. But to extend the summer vibes a little further, here’s a selection of our best surfing titles.
"I wasn't born with much of a filter. So when I see bullshit, I call "bullshit". A WhatsApp conversation with the photographer of This Is Not A F*cking Street Style…
You're at the new MENDO.nl, built from scratch by Build in Amsterdam. We asked Build’s co-founder Daan Klaver, lead designer Julian Mollema and MENDO’s Joost Albronda why the new website…
At MENDO we’re currently working on a rather exciting book: #Sendnudes. Time to let editorial coordinator Mikel van den Boogaard inform you a little about this project, and the progress…
This year, the unique and recognizable photography of Erwin Olaf (1959) is celebrated like never before. With Olaf presenting a new book and big overview exhibitions, it’s time to focus…
Our newest book is in print! #SENDNUDES showcases stunning images from the world’s biggest talents in nude photography, curated from a female point of view by Iman Whitfield. We sat…
teNeues collaborated with MENDO to create a book called Living In Style Amsterdam. It's at the printer's now, and expected to arrive at MENDO in August.
2017 has been a good year for the books. But what were MENDO's personal favorites?
Whether you went backpacking through Asia, or just ate Ramen around the corner, chances are that once you’ve been acquainted with one of the Asian cuisines, you’re eager for more.…