We are shaped by the events of our childhood and Daniel Arsham is no exception. During his youth in Miami, the house in which he lived came under attack from environmental forces and he watched as his home shuffled and shattered right before his very eyes. It seems that this early experience of environmental fury has left a deep impression on the artist, whether it is through his use of refuse as a medium or his desire to create objects that are worn and warped.

Growing up after the invention of plastic and advertising, much of Arsham’s childhood memorabilia is not unique. By the time the artist was born in the early 80s, Most Americans had a Kodak camera. In fact by then Kodak had sold cameras to 85% of the American market and these mass produced cameras were used in homes across the nation to capture sentimental moments. Along with the memories they captured, these pieces of technology bring up their own sense of nostalgia. In 2015 most of these antiquated machines are now piled up and long forgotten by almost everyone as new sleek technology and digital storage have made them obsolete.

Grasping the desire to capture this sense of nostalgia Arsham recreated everyday items from his youth and has turned them into relics. He uses ecological mediums, such as moon dust, to create individual sculptures with their own wear and tear, and just like artists in the past Arsham is able to purchase his mediums at the marketplace, although his marketplace is Ebay.

The galleries of the Contemporary Arts Center there is now a monument to these memories, and underneath is a life size sculpture of the artist himself, helping to support the stack.  There isn’t just one life size figure of Arsham in the show, there is also a replica of the artist with his hands out stretched, blocking his face from an invisible force and bringing to mind the tragedy of Pompeii as if it were an illustration in a history book. This eerie sense of uncanny sculpture permeates through the entire show, from the gradient of helmets to the liquid feeling of the walls.

In addition to his ability to warp figures and architecture Arsham also bring with him an air of celebrity. His venture into film has brought him up close with Hollywood celebrities such as musician Pharell and actor James Franco. In a dark corner of the exhibit he shows his short film “Future Relic”. Which explores the documentation of the artifacts of the recent past and questions their need to remain in a physical form after being put into digital storage.

Through film, sculpture, and architecture Arsham provokes and prods viewers into an uncomfortable position and allows them to question the physical world around them. In the same way he had to questions permanence as a child experiencing the destructive forces of nature.  “Remembering the Future” shapes the space and allows the viewer to examine the fragility of nature and the impermanence of time.

–Katie Dreyer

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