Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Reach Ruin (installation view), 2012. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Daniel Arsham titled his FWM exhibition Reach Ruin, which is an anagram of the word “hurricane.” The encrypted word recalls Arsham’s childhood experience of Hurricane Andrew in Miami, Florida, in 1992. After hiding in a reinforced closet as the storm raged overnight, he awoke the next morning and found his home devastated by a ferocious act of nature. To this day Arsham’s conceptions of architecture are warped by many indelible images of Andrew’s destruction: drywall pulverized to sand, dust, and paper; insulation soaked to a pink paste; aluminum studs bent like utensils; and shattered glass. Although we humans build things to outlast ourselves, nothing is immune to natural change. The work Arsham created through his FWM residency is about the construction of destruction.

For example, the multisensory wall installation Storm was both sculptural and performative, immediate and ominous. With Storm, Arsham created a multimedia experience of the hurricane of his childhood to confront and better understand its power. At the far end of the gallery, haunting music, flashing lights, and wind gusts emanated from a cavern lined with shattered glass. Andy Cavatorta, an MIT-educated roboticist, wrote the software to synchronize the score, lighting, and industrial blowers for this work.

If architecture is the process of creating structures built to last a lifetime, performance is its temporal counterpart. A Study for Occupant featured choreography by Jonah Bokaer and scenic elements designed by Arsham. Both Arsham and Bokaer wanted to explore the Greek and Latin origins of the word “chorus”—“a dance in a circle”— in this collaboration. The dancers used film cameras cast from plaster- like pieces of chalk to inscribe marks on the floor of the gallery. These cameras erode through use and distill the process of ruin into a fleeting moment.

Artist Bio

Daniel Arsham (American, born 1980)

Daniel Arsham graduated from Cooper Union and received the Gelman Trust Fellowship Award in 2003. In 2004, he participated in the group show Miami Nice at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, which began representing Arsham in 2005. As one of the founders of the seminal Miami artist-run space The House, his interest in multi-disciplinary artist collaborations started early. Legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham asked Arsham to create the stage design for his work eyeSpace in 2007. Following this project, Arsham began designing for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for performances in Australia, France, and multiple locations in the United States. In 2011, Arsham created the set for the final three performances of Cunningham’s legacy tour at the Park Avenue Armory. Despite never being trained in stage design, he has continued this practice, collaborating with Robert Wilson as well as Jonah Bokaer, a former Cunningham dancer. Arsham’s ongoing work with Bokaer includes REPLICA, which has been performed at such esteemed venues as The New Museum in New York; Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno in Valencia, Spain, and The Hellenic Festival in Athens, Greece. His most recent collaboration with Bokaer, titled RECESS, had its world premiere at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in 2011. Arsham and Bokaer will present a new collaboration with David Hallberg at Le Festival d’Avignon in France in July 2012, followed by another premiere at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August. To further explore the possibilities of spatial manipulation, Arsham founded Snarkitecture in 2007 with partner Alex Mustonen to operate in territories between the disciplines of art and architecture. Their artistic practice recently won the commission to create two large public artworks for Miamiʼs new Florida Marlins ballpark, which opened in April 2012.