Post-apocolyptic art: Daniel Arsham foresees life in 2044
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 The same intricate detail and satirical wit remains in their decay, but the smooth, ice-white plaster has been replaced by black tar and grainy ash.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.