Daniel Arsham Brings His Future Relics to Thailand Through ‘BANGKOK 3024’

An exhibition created in collaboration and celebration of luxury retailer Central Embassy’s 10 year anniversary.

Interviews

New York-based artist Daniel Arsham has brought his future relics to Bangkok Thailand, in a first-of-its-kind exhibition in the country titled BANGKOK 3024. The show is created in collaboration with luxury lifestyle destination Central Embassy to celebrate the label’s 10th anniversary.

To learn more about the exhibition and commemorative event, HypeArt met with Arsham and Barom Bhicharnchitr, the managing director of Central Embassy and founder of Siwilai. In a private conversation and tour around the space, the two shared significant details on their conceptual inspiration, specific works and personal reflections.

BANGKOK 3024 is an evocative journey through time, merging past, present and future to explore cultural memory and identity. Known for his fictional archaeology, Arsham transforms Central Embassy into a futuristic excavation site, revealing artifacts from the late 20th century. The space features works from various eras of his career, each reflecting his signature style, which blurs the lines between decay and regeneration, inviting viewers to reconsider their perceptions of time and permanence. Thematically, the exhibition is both a celebration of Central Embassy’s decade-long legacy but also a call to action prompting visitors to reflect on our collective future.

 

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Arsham noted that not all of the works present are new, but instead represent a journey through time, with each object representing a different era — a concept that deeply resonates and reflects the passage of time for Central Embassy. In addition to the exhibited works, the artist’s studio also brought with it a range of editions, art books and event-exclusive merchandise. “It was just quite fitting, I wouldn’t say it was planned, it was more like destined,” Bhicharnchitr explains. “We have been in talks with Daniel for a while now and it’s just that the 10th-year anniversary was the best moment.”

Notably, Bhicharnchitr and Central Embassy’s relationship with Arsham dates back to 2017, when the lifestyle destination tapped the artist’s design firm Snarkitecture to produce an immersive installation titled THE BEACH. Since then, the two have stayed in touch, with Bhicharnchitr discussing other projects they’ve worked together on, including the first exhibition with Arsham’s studio.

Lending further significance to the moment, BANGKOK 3024 also represents a series of firsts for the artist: from a unique iteration of his eroded passage concept and the inaugural exhibition by Arsham Studio in Bangkok to Split Venus being shown in public. “The main gesture is this big installation, a work that I’ve created in other scenarios,” shared Arsham, adding, “This is a unique way of viewing it because you’re able to be inside of it and also see it from multiple different levels above, with the architecture of the building also having an influence.”

“There’s something about the repetitive nature and material that is ephemeral.”

He further explained that it was the first time the passage had ever been created with the walls being disconnected at the tops, allowing them to protrude above the second level of the building, providing a staggering effect. Each of the walls is notably smaller in scale, helping to amplify the feeling of walking through a portal. Similarly, the space between the walls provides what Arsham says could be considered mini-galleries, each of which features a unique work from the aforementioned eras. Another significant first is that the passage and its walls are placed or rather surrounded by a Japanese-inspired gravel garden, a design element that’s become somewhat synonymous with the artist.

Touching on this, Arsham shared “This is the first instance that I’ve done the eroded walls surrounded by this gravel garden, I’ve made a number of these as installations and also have one at my house in Long Island.” He further explained “The original inspiration came from visiting Kyoto and seeing the gardens. There is something about the repetitive nature and material that is ephemeral — that if you touch this, it’s going to be changed — lends itself well to the overall context of my work.”

Key works featured in Arsham Studio and Central Embassy’s BANGKOK 3024 include Stormtrooper (2023), Bronze Eroded Dog With Hat (2021), Bronze Eroded DeLorean (2021), Amalgamized Venus Italica or Split Venus (2022) and Blue Calcite Crystallized Jumping Pikachu (2021).

“When we’re looking at sculpture, we have the visual quality of what the objects can tell us,” Arsham mused. “The material itself can also tell a story, and I think that I’ve really leaned heavily on what the sculptural work I make is produced from and what that story can tell. For example, making something in bronze relates to this kind of historical context, whereas something made in crystal is new and something people aren’t used to seeing.”

Walking through the passage, Arsham shared more on the specific materials used in each work, with Stormtrooper featuring amethyst, quartz and hydrostone while works like the Bronze Eroded DeLorean at the 1:3 scale utilized bronze, polished stainless steel and polished bronze for the exposed crystals. Speaking more on the intermingling between past and present within his practice, Arsham shared: “The patina that I’ve applied to this one reminds us of sculpture from antiquity, something old from the past but then we recognize the car — the DeLorean, which was a future proposition in and of itself, a kind of failed future.”

“The material itself can also tell a story”

Arriving at Split Venus, the artist explained that this was the first time the work had been shown in public and also remarked that it was one of his most complex works to date. Created using a new technique for Arsham, the work, devoid of erosions, combines two different materials, patinaed bronze and polished stainless steel — representing the past and future respectively. “These were some of the most complex works I’ve made to date, when I originally cast this work, I found that during the process, these two materials would shrink at different rates,” he shared. “I had to increase the size of one of the molds to get it to align perfectly, eventually I found a formula to the specific percentage difference between the two and figured it out through trial and error.”

Last but not least, we arrived at the Crystallized Jumping Pikachu, finished in blue calcite, quartz and hydrostone. Arsham noted that the work was one of the first pieces he had made when he began his collaboration with the Pokémon Company — with his latest edition, the Seated Pikachu just recently marking the end of that collaboration. However, the artist did note that he’s still in the family and in a humble brag, shared “They’ve replaced the Pokémon logo at the Tokyo headquarters with my eroded Pokémon, which is really dope.”

Curious to learn what a personal relic might look like for Bhicharnchitr, we asked what he believes might stand the test of time from this current era and go on to be rediscovered by future generations, sharing that he would choose things he grew up with or around, including sports memorabilia, video games, and elements of pop culture, which he highlighted are already present in Arsham’s work and a reason why he’s a fan.

In the same vein, we asked Arsham what specific items from Thai culture, that he’s observed from the outside looking in, have the potential to stand the test of time and become future relics. Giving it a little thought, he shared that he came across a few amulets and was impressed by their metalwork and miniature cases. “That’s the kind of specific cultural thing that I love to find when I’m traveling,” he added.

Established in 2014, Central Embassy has become known as a premier lifestyle destination in Bangkok, primarily through its commitment to luxury and innovation. Notably, the unique presentation of BANGKOK 3024 aims to highlight and underscore the destination’s role as a cultural hub by blending art, history and futuristic concepts.

It’s worth sharing that bringing such experiences to the forefront of the lifestyle scene is nothing new for the location. A few of its highlights from the past few years include the 1600 Pandas+ World Tour in Thailand, the installation of a 26-foot KAWS: BFF by Brian Donnelly and All Rights Reserved. Additionally, in 2017, Arsham’s Snarkitecture transformed the ground floor of the lifestyle center into a dreamy swimmable sea made of a million translucent plastic balls with THE BEACH. Other notable projects include partnerships with artist MADSAKI and towering installations with artists Hajime Sorayama and Azuma Makoto.

“We’ve been here 10 years now, time flies and we’ve got some big plans,” shared Bhicharnchitr. Recapping a few highlights, he shared that Central Embassy first opened in 2014, with the joined Park Hyatt in 2016 and the revamping of its flagship department store, Central Chidlom nearing completion at the time of writing. He also expressed that Central Embassy itself is in the process of what he calls “Phase Two,” which is set to be complete by 2029.

In closing, Bhicharnchitr says that “retail and art are somewhat similar, in the sense that we want to give people ways to express themselves, whether through products or experiences like this immersive showcase,” adding, “Daniel’s work has a lot to do with time and we’re very thankful to him for taking the time to bring his work to Central Embassy for our 10th anniversary.”

Expanding on thoughts shared about his relationship with Thailand on Instagram, Arsham explained “I first came here when I was 19 years old. I was backpacking all over Southeast Asia. It was a very different time in Bangkok.” He particularly noted the change that areas like Khaosan Road have seen over the years and that there was a very different sense when he first visited. However, he did share “I remember the food, I remember the heat, and I remember the impression of the Thai people during that time,” adding, “It’s great to be back here showing my work more than twenty years later in a very different context.”

For those interested in visiting the installation, BANGKOK 3024 is open from now until July 14 and is made up of three key landmarks the “Excavation” space paired with the “Artifacts” both located on the G level and a site-specific entryway at level 1 titled “Passage.”

BANGKOK 3024
Central Embassy
1031 Phloen Chit Road,
Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330

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