Bullshit has its uses. I can sling BS as well as the next guy or gal; sometimes it’s necessary to protect yourself, your loved ones or your job. But there are some forms of BS that really get under my skin, especially that purveyed by celebrities. Do I hold them to a higher standard because they are mega-wealthy, mega-privileged and can go “gypsetting” around the world? Perhaps. “Gypset,” by the way, is a term coined by journalist, travel writer and adventurer Julia Chaplin, describing a “nomadic yet sophisticated cadre of travelers” she encountered while on assignment as a travel writer, covering, as she puts it, “really jet-set-y things,” like the Cannes Film Festival or St. Barths.
One of the hottest celebrity artists is Daniel Arsham, featured in Ms. Chaplin’s article in The New York Times.
Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, who met Arsham at a dinner at a Miami gallery seven years ago, says, “Daniel is a master of illusion and science. The metaphors of his work read true to humans.”
Who else would they read true to, rhinos, baboons, aardvarks?
He went further to say, “It’s not based upon languages. It’s based upon human reaction and response to his work.”
Okay, so language isn’t necessary, and humans respond to his work. Not aardvarks? If language isn’t needed, why can’t non-humans appreciate it?
Al Moran, founder of Ohwow Gallery, which represents Arsham in Los Angeles, says, “The notion that highbrow and lowbrow culture are two separate things is a dated concept. Those two things have merged into one, and Daniel’s practice reflects that.”
Color me unhip, but “practice” is a term generally applied to lawyers, doctors, Buddhists, but not to visual artists. Help me out here.
Chaplin refers to his instagram account as “artwork in itself” with a perspective that is “at once playful and apocalyptic.”
Let me invoke SNL’s Linda Richman for a moment: Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. Playful apocalypse is neither playful nor an apocalypse—discuss. There, I feel better.
And if you are still unsure about the nature of his oeuvre, worry not, he is currently working on a 9-part feature film he wrote and directed called Future Relic, “exploring quotidian life in a post-ecological future.”
This evokes a Soylent Green / Wall-E world, with no plant or animal life, a dead earth. How cheerful.
The film stars James Franco, Juliette Lewis and Lukas Haas. A non-speaking Mr. Franco is dressed in silver safety pants while examining “calcified” objects against a soundtrack of “retro” Hawaiian music.
I wonder what the scenes with Lewis and Haas will entail.
In Arsham’s own words, “The future I’m interested in is pedestrian and everyday. It’s broken, but there’s also a lightness to it.”
Profound? I don’t think so.