Daniel Arsham: Design Miami/ (VIDEO)

12/06/2013 05:16 am ET | Updated Feb 04, 2014

If you're tagging a Daniel Arsham article, set considerable time aside. The New York-based artist - insert "filmmaker", "set designer", "Snarkitect" etc - has a huge repertoire for one so young, and a collaborator contact list that boasts names such as Merce Cunningham, Pharrell Williams and Heidi Slimane to name a few.

He's a creative who transcends many disciplines but there's always a performative aspect to Arsham's work, and his offering at this year's Design Miami/ is no exception. He continues to join forces with the choreographer/dancer Jonah Bokaer for 'Occupant' which shows at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

"There's an aesthetic sensibility present in his work, that's very clean and simple, architectural almost." says Arsham of his friend, whom he met while they worked together for Merce Cunningham and who has performed for him ever since.


'Occupant' follows 'Study for the Occupant', the dance Bokaer performed at Arsham's London Frieze exhibition - #recollections - in October, which the artist describes as a "fragment" of the larger piece that will showcase at Design Miami/. As with the Frieze performance, this one will incorporate a version of the artworks from Arsham's latest exhibitions.

"Occupant, uses some of these objects that I've been working with but they're cast in chalk in order to allow the performers to use them almost as inscribing tools on the floor of the stage." says Arsham.


The pieces are cast technological objects from the not-so-distant past. Arsham trawled through ebay, snapping up retro film reels, ghetto blasters and microphones, which he fossilised with volcanic ash and crystal, using chemicals to create the effects of many years in a matter of hours.

"At the end of the performance we're left with a kind of wasteland of broken cameras and phones."


Also at Design Miami/ this year, Arsham will premiere his latest venture and first film. "Future Relic 01", is the first instalment of the artist's series - Future Relic - and is based on 'an archetypal brick phone cast from a mixture of plaster and broken glass'. The short narrates the discovery of the phone and features a backing score from Swiss Beatz and costumes designed by Richard Chai.


The list of collaborators continues to grow, but Arsham still can't convince anyone to get in the mould and any human-casts he has to do himself. It's a four to five hour, uncomfortably hot and vaseline-soaked process he loathes.

"It's one of the grossest things that I have to do. I dread the days I have to go into the studio. I've tried to make other people in the studio, but everyone gets like an hour into it and then they freak out."

Text by Leila De Vito for

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