Daniel Arsham's Formless Figure

daneyal mahmood
Apr 23, 2015 9:45PM

On View at The Watermill Center from April 4 - June 13

Exhibition: Daniel Arsham

Venue: The Watermill Center, 39 Watermill Town Road,          Water Mill, NY

Dates: April 4 – June 13, 2015

Public Opening: Saturday, April 4, 4pm—6pm

Artist Talk: Saturday, June 13, 2015, 4pm—6pm 

(NEW YORK, NY, updated April 16, 2015) – On April 4, 2015, an exhibition of a site-specific work by artist Daniel Arsham will be on view at The Watermill Center in Water Mill, NY. Arsham’s Formless Figure will directly intervene into the architecture of the building. Commissioned by Watermill, the work is made of fiberglass, metal and plaster. Blending architecture with the visual arts, Arsham’s practice transforms surface and space into a visceral interaction between the viewer and the work. 

Watermill Founder and Artistic Director Robert Wilson, who has previously collaborated with Arsham, says of the artist’s work: “I see in Daniel’s work something very personal, a unique visual vocabulary.” Through sculpture, drawing and performance, Arsham challenges our perceptions of physical space in order to make architecture perform the improbable. The surfaces of walls appear to melt, erode and ripple. Animals contemplate the emergence of floating shapes in nature. Sculptures from antiquity are infused with rigid, geometric forms. “When we think about architecture, it’s the most lasting gesture we can make as human beings—art too, I suppose, although one could argue that architecture is the most visible and present,” explains Arsham. “Therefore its disruption can be very uncanny and powerful, and this is where I’m trying to allow the work to reside, a place where people are a little bit shaken by the disruption of the familiar and the everyday.” 

The exhibition opening will be celebrated with a public reception on Saturday, April 4 from 4pm—6pm. On Saturday, June 13 at 4pm, Arsham will host an artist talk to discuss this work and his artistic practice. (See complete schedule below.)

ABOUT DANIEL ARSHAM: Raised in Miami, Arsham attended the Cooper Union in New York City where he received the Gelman Trust Fellowship Award in 2003. In 2004, Arsham participated in the group show “Miami Nice” at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, which began to represent Arsham in 2005. As one of the founders of the seminal Miami artist-run spaces The House and Pacemaker Gallery, his interest in collaboration began early. In 2004 legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham asked Arsham to create the stage design for his work eyeSpace. Following this Arsham toured with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for performances in Australia, France, and multiple locations in the United States. Arsham’s first stage design for Cunningham was acquired by The Walker Museum for its permanent collection. Despite never being trained in stage design he has continued his practice in stage, collaborating with Robert Wilson, as well as a sustained collaboration with Jonah Bokaer. Arsham’s most recent collaboration with world-renowned musician and producer Pharrell Williams involved the recreation in volcanic ash of the musician’s first keyboard.

Arsham’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1 in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, The Athens Bienniale in Athens, Greece, The New Museum In New York, Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, California and Carré d’Art de Nîmes, France among others. Monographs of Arsham’s were published by the French Centre National des arts Plastiques and Galerie Perrotin in 2012. Arsham is represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, Hong Kong and New York; OHWOW in Los Angeles; Baro Galeria in Sao Paulo; and Pippy Houldsworth in London.


The Watermill Center is an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities completed in 2006 on the Long Island, NY site of a former Western Union communication research facility. Founded by theatre and visual artist Robert Wilson as a place for young and emerging artists to work, learn, create, and grow with each other, Watermill integrates performing arts practice with resources from the humanities, research from the sciences, and inspiration from the visual arts. Watermill is unique within the global landscape of experimental theatrical performance, and regularly convenes the brightest minds from all disciplines to do, in Wilson’s words, "what no one else is doing."

At the core of Watermill's programming lies the year-round support of artists in residence. Through both the International Summer Program—a highly collaborative residency led by Wilson—and through one to four week individual residencies hosted from September through June, Watermill annually welcomes over 150 artists from around the world. This unparalleled global residency program is complemented by educational programs with schools and other local institutions, public events such as open rehearsals and lectures, tours of the building and grounds, and seminars and symposia.

The Watermill Center itself is a 20,000+ square foot flexible working space including a 6,000 volume research library, galleries, rehearsal and staging spaces, workshops, offices, and residences situated on six acres of artist-designed and landscaped grounds. The Watermill Collection of over 8,000 art and artifact pieces spanning the history of humankind is integrated into all aspects of the building and grounds as a reminder that the history of each civilization is told by its artists.


Saturdays at The Watermill Center

April 4, 2015

11:30am - 1:00pm – Puppet Workshop with Julian Crouch & Saskia Lane

When an egg cracks open and a restless paper spirit emerges, what will it become? In this 30-minute tabletop puppetry piece, Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane team up to create extraordinary beauty from ordinary objects: crumpled brown paper, found objects, shadows and a mound of sand.

12:30 - 1:30pm – Tour of the Building, Grounds & Collection

1:00 - 2:00pm – Picnic Lunch on the Grounds*

The grounds will be open for all guests. *Weather permitting

2:00 - 3:30pm – Performance Art 101 with Kembra Pfahler

Performance Art 101 focuses on Availibilism and what Kembra Pfahler terms her Manual of Action, a dictionary of her vocabulary of images. Pfahler will adapt Performance Art 101 for this Saturdays @ WMC workshop.

3:30 - 5:00pm – Tour of the Building, Grounds & Collection

4:00 - 6:00pm – Exhibition Opening & Reception | Daniel Arsham’s Formless Figure

Saturdays at The Watermill Center

Saturday, June 13, 2015*

12:30 – 2:00pm – Open rehearsal of Flying Point

Watermill Summer Program Alum and multidisciplinary artist Tomek Jeziorski will lead an open rehearsal of Flying Point, a work-in-process exploring stories of the Shinnecock culture. This original work will be created in collaboration with composer and fellow Summer Program Alum Adam Lenz, cinematographer Karolina Zielińska, and Shinnecock Nation member Shane Weeks. The goal of the project is to combine mediums, including video, sound and storytelling, in order to express the vivid and rich culture of the Shinnecock community.

3:30 - 5:00pm – Tour of the Building, Grounds & Collection

4:00 - 6:00pm –Artist Talk | Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham will host an artist talk to discuss this work and his artistic practice.

*Additional workshops and programs to be announced.

VISITOR INFORMATION: The Watermill Center is located 39 Watermill Town Road, Water Mill, NY. All events at The Watermill Center are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Tours and visits to featured exhibits and the Watermill Collection are open to the general public by appointment, as the entire space is an active laboratory for resident artists to work. Saturday afternoon guided tours may be reserved in advance through June 13, 2015; there is a $10 suggested donation for guided tours. The Watermill Center also hosts a variety of public events and activities, including open houses and lecture series featuring artists and scholars. The Center presents open rehearsals performed by artists-in-residence. Seating is very limited and booking becomes available approximately two weeks before each event. The Watermill Study Library will be open to the public by appointment beginning May 1. For general information or exhibition, event and tour schedules, visit The Watermill Center online at watermillcenter.org or call (631) 726-4628.

For more information about The Watermill Center, please visit www.watermillcenter.org

daneyal mahmood