Daniel Arsham plunks an extra-large bronze padlock on the desk at his Long Island City, Queens, studio. The piece looks worn and eroded, like some artifact dug up from the neighborhoods postindustrial grounds, its patina a subtle blue. And not just any blue. Created for Tiffany & Co., the work is the artist’s limited–edition sculpture for his latest collaboration with the luxury brand. Arsham lifts the shackle and opens the box to reveal a dazzling bangle: his take on Tiffany’s new Lock bracelet.
Reflecting over Zoom, Arsham frames the padlock as part of a fictional archaeology. “It’s this idea of taking something from the present and pushing it into the future artificially,” he notes. “There’s a confusion that happens when you’re looking at something that’s from the era in which you live, but it’s aged, like something that you might see in a museum.”
Over the course of his celebrated career, the artist has applied this treatment to everything from cameras to basketballs to telephones, realizing their instantly recognizable forms in plaster, volcanic ash, and other materials that can give the impression of decay. In 2013, Arsham (who is represented by Perrotin gallery) realized a pile of seemingly eroded padlocks in crystal, shattered glass, and hydrostone.