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Alexis Dahan 2015
Alexis Dahan, “News Rack”, 2015© courtesy of Alexis Dahan

Alexis Dahan is raising the Alarm on NY’s streets

The French-born artist is turning the city scape into his own public art space with a new exhibition

Artist Alexis Dahan has turned his fascination with New York's streets into his life's work. Plundering the cityscapes, his latest immersive solo exhibition centres around the static and mundane objects that populate metropolises the world over – fire alarm boxes, payphones and news racks. When asked what it is that peaks his interest, he explains: "I am not fascinated with New York streets particularly. What interests me is the public space, this place that is common to all of us, 'distinguished from our own privately owned space in it,' as Hannah Arendt said. The public space happens to be the streets because we all live in cities."

Keen to draw a parallel with the ‘ever-closing’ relationship between art and philosophy, the French-native – who studied literature and philosophy in Paris – currently finds himself inspired by artists such as Mexican-born Gabriel Orozco and fellow Frenchman Pierre Huyghe, the latter who he channels in his latest show Alarm! Like Huyghe, Dahan’s works were not created with the intention of remaining confined within the walls of a gallery – in this case, the Two Rams. Instead, he opens them up to the outside, ‘as if one store was bleeding its content inside the art space next door.’ The decision, he says, stems from the notion that he finds it “senseless to limit oneself to making salable objects.”

“Yes, this is a commercial gallery,” he adds, “but that does not mean the only experience you can give is the one of an aesthetically pleasing grocery store.” It's not the first time the artist has brought his art to the street masses, in 2013, he set up a hot dog vending cart selling philosophical texts and art theory for a bargain bin price of $1. For Dahan, by pushing the exhibition beyond the gallery’s walls, the work “can be experienced by everybody, even those who did not intend to.”

Alarm! is on show at New York’s Two Rams until 23 February, 2015. Click here for more