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Zen and the art of gardening

We sat down to chat with Daniel Arsham ahead of his October 4th talk at the AGO and his art installation for Nuit Blanche.

Lunar Garden

Lunar Garden. Photo courtesy of Daniel Arsham Studio.

It’s that time of year again! On October 5, you can be an art-goer from dusk to dawn with Nuit Blanche Toronto 2019. One of the all-night festival’s highly anticipated installations is Lunar Garden by renowned multidisciplinary artist, architect and filmmaker Daniel Arsham. This large, moon-lit, Japanese-style garden installation contains brightly coloured sand that has been raked in patterns. It will be located in Nathan Phillips Square – one of Nuit Blanche’s most visited locations.

On October 4, as part of AGO Futures – the talk series that brings leading authors, curators and artists to the AGO’s stage – Arsham will make his way to the AGO for a sold out talk in Jackman Hall, discussing the Lunar Garden and his unique approach to creating environments. We recently chatted with him about his process, his inspiration and what visitors can expect from his talk.

AGO: What inspired you to create Lunar Garden?

Arsham: I spend a lot of time in Japan, and my wife is Japanese. I have learned a lot about the gardens, and this idea of something that is permanent and ephemeral at the same time. The gardens are typically replications of a natural experience. So within the gardens the rocks are meant to represent islands, and in this case the objects, and the sand or gravel is meant to represent water or waves.

AGO: Nathan Phillips Square is the most visited location during Nuit Blanche. How have you created your work to be experienced by this volume of people?   

Arsham: The scale of Lunar Garden is immense and large, to fill the space. I've thought a lot about the experience of entering the space, what the light is like, how you might approach it from different angles, and your experience of moving through it. I hope that viewers will appreciate and understand all of those things within the work.

AGO: What do you think people will get from viewing well-known contemporary objects as artifacts?

Arsham: So much of my work is about recreating objects from the present and pushing them into the future through a transformation of material – making them look like a kind of archeological object. Whenever you're taken outside of your everyday experience, your perception and acceptance of linear time, those things can shift, with art.

What can attendees expect from your talk at the AGO? 

Arsham: The talk will focus around the experience of producing this project, as well as an overview of all of my other works. 

Advance tickets for Daniel Arsham’s talk on Friday, October 4 at 7 pm have sold out, but a limited number of Rush Line tickets will be available that evening at the Jackman Hall box office.

And as you make your way through the city during Nuit Blanche, stop by the AGO to see Unearthed by Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson. It will be shown in Walker Court on Saturday, October 5 at 7 pm until 7 am the next day.

Admission to the AGO Collection and all special exhibitions is always free for AGO MembersAGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 and under. For more information, please visit the website.

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