Post-apocolyptic art: Daniel Arsham foresees life in 2044

It seems to be old radio
Daniel Arsham’s exhibition ’My First Exhibition in Japan, 2044’ takes a satircal look at a post-apocolyptic future. Pictured: Selonite and Ash Eroded Boombox (no handle), 2016
(Image credit: courtesy the artist and Nanzuka Gallery)

Multi-disciplinary art-star Daniel Arsham is known for looking forwards. The Snarkitecture co-founder has a questioning, futuristic tone, that recurrs in whatever medium he’s picked that day – be it film, sculpture, paint or performance art. His new exhibition at Tokyo’s Nunzuka Gallery continues this probing theme through nine time-travelling works.

’My First Exhibition in Japan, Year 2044’ takes ageing media devices like boom-boxes and analogue cameras, and decays them in geological materials such as volcanic ash, selenite and crushed glass. Displayed with museum-like sterility, complete with holes, broken ariels and melted lenses, the objects are made alien, as if they’ve been excavated from a future archaeological dig.

We’ve seen Arsham destroy cameras before, back in 2012, where he plaster-cast them, then smashed them for ’Reach Ruin’ in Philadelphia. They appear again amongst the chalky rubble of his ’fictional archeology’ show in October 2015. These new sculptures have a darker, more sinister tone. The same intricate detail and satirical wit remains in their decay, but the smooth, ice-white plaster has been replaced by black tar and grainy ash.

Upping the stakes, Arsham has also fabricated a human body, preserved in a lava-like substance, with singed holes in the life-like skin. Protruding from the wall, trapped in stasis, the sculpture is reminiscent of the body casts at Pompeii. Eerily, only the face, arms and legs remain, with the feet still tucked in boots. 

A little light is added to this prophetic showcase through four vibrant paintings of the moon, which use thick blue oils to create the bubbling crater-effect. Arsham’s film ’Future Relic’ also has a lunar theme, the last three chapters of which are on display. Posing as a potential future documentary, the film imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which large, geometric sections of the moon are excavated in an attempt to reverse the rising tides.


By citing the year ’2044’ in the title, Arsham creates a sense of urgency, hinting that this desolate land of ash clouds and heaving tides might not be so far away.

Ageing media devices like boom-boxes and analogue cameras

Ageing media devices like boom-boxes and analogue cameras, and cakes them in geological materials such as volcanic ash, selenite and crushed glass. Pictured: Volcanic Ash Eroded Leica M3 Camera, 2016

(Image credit: courtesy the artist and Nanzuka Gallery)

Old camera to be kept on exhibition

Displayed with museum-like precision, complete with holes, broken ariels and melted lenses, the objects are made alien, and look like they’ve been excavated from a future archaeological dig. Pictured: Selonite Eroded Hasselblad Camera, 2016

(Image credit: courtesy the artist and Nanzuka Gallery)

Things to be kept on exhibition

Arsham has also fabricated a human body, preserved in a lava-like substance, with singed holes in the life-like skin. Protruding from the wall, trapped in stasis, the sculpture is reminiscent of the body casts at Pompeii. Pictured: Pyrite Eroded Broken Figure (and detail), 2016

(Image credit: courtesy the artist and Nanzuka Gallery)

A moon portrait to be kept on exhibition

Arsham adds light to this prophetic showcase through four vibrant paintings of the moon. Pictured: Moon Painting (Blue 3), 2016

(Image credit: press)

Blue color moon to be hanged on the wall

Thick blue oils are used to create the bubbling crater-effect. Pictured: Moon Painting (Blue 5), 2016

(Image credit: press)

Lunar eclipse photographed

Arsham’s film ’Future Relic’, the last three chapters of which are on display, also has a lunar theme

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION
’My First Exhibition in Japan, Year 2044’ runs through 16 April 2016. For more information, visit the Nanzuka Gallery website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Shibuya Ibis #B1F
2-17-3 Shibuya Shibuya-ku 
Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

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Photography courtesy the artist and Nanzuka Gallery

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.