+1 855 923 4327. Artist Daniel Arsham wants you to call this number.
“We’ve had thousands of calls this morning,” Arsham tells me as we meet at New York’s KITH store where his latest installation is just about to open to the public.
The number is written on the floor in front of a bright blue payphone that beckons to me. I dial the number and Arsham’s voice answers. “Hey mum, how are you? Remember that idea I had? It’s happening – so I just need to know everything you remember about the ‘92 hurricane.” It would appear that I’ve hacked into the artist’s phone – but why?
Titled #calldaniel, open to the public now, the payphone will remain until 27 June. It’s the first of a three-part project that the artist is working on with adidas Originals and new messages will be added regularly, encouraging callers to put together a narrative.
“The work is never about something specific, it’s always an invitation to think about things” – Daniel Arsham
“I was trying to figure out a way to tease out a story without revealing too much”, explains Arsham, “so I started looking back at devices that I’ve used within my own work. I previously had made a cast version of a payphone in a volcanic ash and crystal but I’ve never used the actual phone. It seemed like a really interesting, retro way of reaching people.”
Anyone familiar with Arsham’s work knows it isn’t for the impatient. The beauty lies in the reveal – by giving hints away until a bigger picture emerges. This is most evident is his Future Relic series, which starred Hollywood names such as James Franco and Juliette Lewis. Each film unravels a narrative that leads to the release of one of Arsham’s limited edition cast antiquated objects (a camera, a clock, a cassette tape), with fans picking apart each scene – as well as Arsham’s personal Instagram – in an attempt to locate clues for upcoming projects.
So why are people actually calling this number? Selected at random, some callers will have the chance to leave their details on Arsham’s voicemail and go into a draw to win one of 50 of the artist’s relics, created specifically for the collaboration.
“It’s really fun for me to see how people interpret certain things that we’re putting out,” says Arsham. “I’ve thought about this much like I’ve thought about creating an exhibition, where different works are keys to building an overall story. The work is never about something specific, it’s always an invitation to think about things. And in a similar way, the messages and hints are ways that people can interpret a larger story.”