Daniel Arsham, Katy Diamond Hamer (holding artwork), Pharrell Williams
The Standard Hotel, Cooper Square, NY
Photograph by Daniel Arsham’s assistant, 2013

*This article was originally written and posted in my column, New York Tales, for Flash Art International.

On Wednesday night, September 11th, 2013,  Daniel Arsham and Pharrell Williams were joined by many guests in a collision of worlds, joining art, fashion and music. The event was held on the occasion of the reveal of a sculptural collaboration between the two artists. Arsham, whose studio is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, made several sculptures based on a Casio keyboard from the late 1980s. The duo said that the collaboration came about by way of a question. Speaking to Pharrell Williams, the musician stated, “He asked me a question and I had an answer. If he didn’t ask the question, none of this would’ve happened.” When I inquired further as to what this question was, Pharrell pointed to Arsham who offered, “What is the one object or instrument that you loved at the beginning of your music career, that was important to your music, that you don’t use and don’t have anymore?” This was posed to Pharrell who answered assuredly that it was his Casio MT-500 keyboard, since long gone. Then a quick dialogue between myself and the onetime lead vocalist of N.E.R.D. and founder of the clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Clothing, which went like this.

Katy Diamond Hamer: (Motioning towards the keyboard) I had one like that.

Pharrell Williams: You had this one?

KDH: No, mine was a bit smaller, but it did have a drum button.

PW: Man, I wish I still had mine…

The last sentence seemed to trail off, almost as if he was remembering the original instrument, poppin’ out jams and making early mixes. What Arsham did in remaking the instrument as a reference to a particular timeframe, he not only paid homage to the keyboard, but also created his own relics, somehow monulmentalizing the instrument by attempting to fossilize or petrify it in a frozen state of memory. At the event, select guests, myself included, were invited to hold the sculpture with white, cotton gloves. It was dense and much heavier than it appeared. Four versions were on view and each made of Hydrostone material then intervened upon by other materials such as crystal and ash. Looking forward to future collaborations between these two artists.

Guests included Brian Donnelly – AKA KAWS, Julia Chiang, Laure Debreuil, Terry Richardson, Andre Balazs, Richard Chai, Jeffrey Deitch, Q-Tip, Prince Philippos of Greece, Hanneli Ruppert, Felix Burrichter, Jennifer Missoni, Miraslova Duma, Luenell, Claire Mossier, Genevieve Jones, Helen Toomer, Emily Weiss, Sarah Lerfel, Alphan Eseli, Nicola Vassell, Gianni Jetzer, Peggy Leboeuf, Brett Littman, Jessica White, Tristan Wilds, Gabi Asfour, Pippa Cohen, Cheryl Dunn, Jamie Baratta, Phillip Bloch, Lisalla Montenegro, James Goldstein, Noemi Fer, Mia Moretti, Nicole Nadeau, Demet Muftuoglu, Ryder Ripps, Ryan McGinness, Michael Avedon,  Rashaad Newsome, and Jose Parla and many others!


View from the rooftop of The Standard, Cooper Square, NY
Lights commemorating September 11th, 2001, a Creative Time Project
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2013