FIRST LOOK | DANIEL ARSHAM’S ‘KICK THE TIRES AND LIGHT THE FIRES’ AT OHWOW, LA

April 7, 2014  |  art

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One of our favorite artists to come to prominence in the past few years is Daniel Arsham, whose sculptures & paintings address American culture and the "archeology of memory." Arsham's latest exhibition, 'Kick the Tires and Light the Fires," which opened its doors this past weekend at at LA's venerable OHWOW gallery is an excellent survey of the full range of Arsham's oeuvre from paintings to sculptures that imagine what objects of our current pop culture would look like as "future relics" being rediscovered as fossils of our current age by some distant future culture.

Molding volume from geological elements, Arsham creates topologically manipulated versions of standard, mass-produced items, as if they deteriorated over long periods of time. Objects familiar and integral to America’s cultural heritage, such as Goodyear tires, NBA basketballs, and a McDonalds sign, are cast directly at their original scale. Rather than replicating them classically with plastics or alloys, he instead uses rocks and minerals, such as obsidian, quartz, volcanic ash, or glacial rock dust. By utilizing geological elements to depict modern convention, he imbues these objects with geological time, adding a layer of cultural distance from these icons of our modern life.

A confusion of temporal dimension arises because it is unclear how to interpret the work: does it concern the future, present, or past? It could seem as though these objects suggest discovery by a future generation. They look deteriorated, and now calcified. On the other hand, however, each item is clearly recognizable as a relatively recent invention. Potentially, this work presents psychic artifacts, tangible predictions created by a past civilization forecasting the demise of a subsequent culture.

Consequently, the complete arrangement of the pieces presented in "Kick the Tires and Light the Fires" could be construed as a libertine’s collection of objects from the past; or, an institutional archive of items——engineered reconstructions from accounts of partial recollections, depicting objects typical of the 20th century; or, a selection of antiques, neglected possessions, now recovered and presented as treasures.

Opening portrait by Sifry Borrayo

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Superfan Edison Chen goes in for the 3 point shot...

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Arsham & collector Swizz Beats reminisce over turntable relics...

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Stampd LA style Crew: Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp, & Dan Regen

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Arsham's gold Ferrarri awaiting a quick getaway...

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Wrapping up the nite with OHWOW founder Al Moran, Edison Chen, & Mr Arsham...

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