Daniel Herschlein

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Artist Statement

I am interested in the narrative of the amateur as someone who is constantly attempting to quench his ill-defined desires and mine the dark interior of his thoughts through laborious and ambiguous tasks. He is the tinkerer, the inventor, the introvert with a camera, the peeping tom. The amateur rigorously immerses himself in his exploratory pursuit and becomes enveloped by it, ultimately confronting his emotional limit where thoughts and feelings approach an unnamable state.  Here his project teeters on the edge of failure. This nihilistic sort of romanticism and its aftermath of physical detritus become symbols of the inevitable failure of transcendence – and what it means to be human. It is this narrative of the inverted odyssey of the amateur that I explore in my work.

“The Already Tasted Thing” (img. 1-3) is a sculpture composed of seemingly deconstructed household objects – a broken chair, a pair of jeans, and a glass of gin amidst a pile of sawdust. The three objects sit atop a wooden slab of plywood flooring on two sawhorses. At the bottom of the glass, filtered through the gin, is a video of my toes flexing in and out amidst abstracted, shiny pink objects. The flickering pulse of the video and the surrounding sawdust suggest that it is burrowing through the platform. From one of the pant legs, a plaster hand emerges like a hermit crab, grasping at scattered coins. Like the relics left over from failed enterprises, the objects on this slab are the ephemera of the amateur. They assert their impotence despite the appearance of wanting to crawl away and hide.

In the performance titled “The Sound of a Sleeping Lung ” (img. 4 -7) a narrow house-like box with a screen door is filled with air mattresses covered in white sheets. A shirtless performer wearing headphones lays atop the mattresses balanced at the lip of the structure as if it were a bed frame. Ropes tied to his belt loop hook into pulleys on the ceiling and then to other objects in the room- a pair of jeans, and a shirt sleeve draped onto a second performer’s head. He slowly pops the air mattresses with a concealed blade which causes the pile of mattress to deflate and envelope him, oozing out between the studs of the narrow structure. At the same time his descent activates other elements in the installation – the nickels in the pockets of the jeans dribble out and bounce along the floor, the shirt sleeve raises. During the hour and a half long performance, the only actions are those initiated by the performer deflating the mattresses. The tediousness of the performance and the tight quarters of the storage unit in which it is performed creates an anxious atmosphere, and viewers are made to confront the limits of their engagement. As the piece goes on, the performers themselves struggle against their own inaction.

These settings for the performances and objects are often cut-aways of interiors or dwarfed, unfinished structures. The objects within are anthropomorphical and often times cast from my own body, as in “By The Shade That Wanders” (img.8-11) Plaster limbs are treated with wax and dressed in my own clothing to be used as surrogates of myself – through their existence I am able to double myself within my performances and sculptures. Using a disposable camera, I document the process of their creation in my studio (img. 12-16). The photographs confuse the point at which the character begins and ends. There is a kind of reverse voyeurism in the process of their development- the first person viewing the photographs is always the stranger in the photo lab as opposed to their creator.

The documentary photographs serve to create a stronger underlying narrative for my work that threads the amateur’s process through the exploration of my emotional limits and the ultimate and acknowledged failure to transcend them.



(b. Bayville, NY)

Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York


2010 BFA New York University

Solo Exhibitions


The Enthusiast, JTT, New York, NY (forthcoming)

55 Gansevoort, New York, NY (forthcoming)


So Long Observing The Ray, Automata, Los Angeles, CA

Selected Group Exhibitions and Projects


Surface Support, Signal, Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Amanda Schmitt.

By The Shade That Wanders, Signal Project Booth 3.24, NADA, New York NY


Das stille Leben des Sammlers Kempinski, Berlin, DE. Curated by Billy Miller and Christian Siekmeier

The Sound of a Sleeping Lung within Nikholis Planck’s Set List, 61 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY


Driver’s Bedroom: A Station Play, Violet’s Café, Brooklyn, NY

The Garage Show, 170B Suffolk, Organized by Jasmin Tsou and Rachel Uffner


Me And Everyone That Is With Me, Recess Activities, in collaboration with the Whitney

Museum of American Art and The Regence Family Residence, New York, NY


Social Animals a performance for Vaginal Davis’ Speaking From The Diaphram at

PS122, New York, NY, organized by Jonathan Berger

Super 8 Night, Gothy’s, New York, NY

Passing Time, 80 WSE Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Adam Putnam


7 Sculptures as part of Barefoot In The Head, Performa 09 at The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, NY, organized by John Russell and Alun Rowlands



Who Won New York’s Frieze Week 2015?, The Observer. Online. May 19.

Chu, Christie. 8 Great Booths to Check Out At NADA Art Fair. Artnet. Online. May 15.

Steadman, Ryan. The Body is Back at the 2015 NADA Art Fair. The Observer. Online. May 15.

Emerging Artists Hang with Top Collectors at NADA’s Best Edition Yet. Artsy. Online. May 15.

Artists to Watch at NADA New York 2015, Artspace. Online. May 8.