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Daniel Arsham x National Treasure Interview Promo #2

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Published on Dec 11, 2018

World-renowned contemporary artist Daniel Arsham has partnered with National Treasure, a TV program focusing on showcasing precious Chinese historical artifacts. Daniel Arsham reinterpreted Changxin Palace Lantern and created a limited edition collaboration tee to pay homage to Chinese culture and art and to share an important part of Chinese history with global audience. The limited edition collaboration tee will be released via National Treasure’s official Tmall store on December 12th, 2018 9 am Beijing time.

The limited edition collaboration tee will be released via National Treasure’s official Tmall store on December 12th, 2018 9 am Beijing time.

Known as “The No. 1 Lantern from China”, the Changxin Palace Lantern is an elegant gilt bronze lantern used to light the baths in the palace of Empress Dou. Dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), it was excavated in 1968 from the tomb of Liu Sheng, the Zhongshan King, and is currently preserved in the Hebei Museum in China. The lantern measures 48 cm tall and weighing 15.85 kg, cast in the shape of a maid of honor on her knees and holding a lantern. This lantern is celebrated for its beauty, environmental feature, scientific ingenuity, and harmonious unification of its decorative and practical purposes. The round base of the lantern rotated, allowing for adjustment of the direction and brightness of the emitted light. The hollow arm that connected to the lantern served to trap smoke produced by the light, forcing it to travel down the arm and into the body of the maid. Water was placed at the bottom of the structure so that once the smoke was captured, it was filtered in an effective anti-pollution technique. The lantern itself was a technological feat of its day that is impressive even in contemporary society.

Daniel Arsham pays homage to Changxin Palace Lantern using his “color chiaroscuro” technique. The reinterpreted artwork is cast pure white, then painted with a dusting of pigment from a certain angle. This technique uses a gradual field of color to imply a shadow across the work, highlighting the texture, craftsmanship, and intricate detail of every fold and curve of the maid’s clothes. As the pigment is sprayed over the lantern, gravity determines where the color lands. Contrasting against the crisp white of the now colorless lantern, the blue brings the iconic piece into a new light.

National Treasure, also known as The Nation’s Greatest Treasures, is a cultural tv program developed by China Central Television (CCTV) that features significant antiquities from major Chinese museums led by Palace Museum (Also known as “The Forbidden City Museum”). These cultural relics vary significantly from Sword of Goujian to Flying Horse of Gansu and Art of War bamboo slips. The first season of the show gathered 800 million TV views and 1.88+ billion comments (August 2018) on social media platforms like Sina Weibo. the second season starting December 9th, 2018 will showcase another twenty-seven iconic Chinese masterpieces from nine prestigious museums around China, in which Changxin Palace Lantern will be presented by Hebei Museum.

Roy Huang, founder of HRY Group and the person who officially connects Arsham with National Treasure, conducted an interview with Arsham regarding this collaboration. The conversation offers an insightful narrative into Arsham’s artistic concepts and studies of Chinese culture in his recreation of the Changxin Palace Lantern, as well as how this collaboration can be interpreted in the current global context.

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