Daniel Arsham’s Animal Architecture came to our attention a few months ago when his show first opened in New York, and to be fair, he’s never used that title for them, the phrase seems to have circulated around from a separate source, and we’d like to make a distinction here that its most closely read as Animal + Architecture, not the more typically understood architecture made by animals. Regardless of what they’re titled, they were then again brought to our attention from a reader and now finally there’s been a bit of internet discussion about the etchings on a few other blogs. But, while they are provocative (to a degree) we’ve stayed out of the discussion mainly because well simply we haven’t found much to say about them. But, we’re not above giving them a second look.
When we’re talking about Daniel Arsham’s Animal Architecture we’re referring to a particular set of illustrations of animals depicted with one or several floating pieces of pure platonic geometry. There’s the Owl, Fox, and the Donkey, for example. On first viewing the effect, of pure geometry and bucolic landscape is disruptive at best, comical at worse and perhaps even violent. It certainly shocks you. Now, we can speculate about various readings of the kind of alien logic of geometry, math, and by extension mankind in the face of nature, or the apparent illumination (divine / cerebral illumination) of the natural by the geometric or we can muse about what the donkey might be thinking in the presence of an object that presumably it cannot possibly fathom, but we don’t think this is really the point or the most interesting aspect of Mr. Arsham’s work.
A broader look at his work shows that a theme of contrast and juxtaposition runs through much of his art with the presumed natural and artificial worlds pulling and pushing at each other often to no resolution. Mr. Arsham, it would seem finds more reward in the conflict than the compromise and whether he’s working in gauche on paper or in polystyrene, the pattern, the trope is repeated.
It is in this context that we feel it is most useful to discuss Daniel Arsham’s work and not just simply the animals in the presence of geometry. And this is where we perhaps choose do differ…we’re more for the compromise.
Image credit: Daniel Arsham