Hayden and Reference Galleries

Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire

ShowingOctober 14, 2016 - January 8, 2017

Hayden and Reference Galleries

About the Exhibition

Edgar Arceneaux’s work in installation, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video, draws inspiration from a wide-ranging set of sources: American history, astronomy, science-fiction, architecture, music, and movies. His solo exhibition at the List Center presents three major, interlocking projects that reflect on history and remembrance, and consider how specific national, cultural narratives change over time. The body of work titled A Book and a Medal (2014) takes inspiration in part from the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and connects 1960s history with the landscape of contemporary, postindustrial American cities. Arceneaux’s recent work The Library of Black Lies (2016) constructs a labyrinthine, Borgesian book repository including various “variations” of books, including volumes by prominent African-American thinkers. The new installation Until, Until, Until (2016), premiering at the List, examines Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial performance at the inaugural celebration for Ronald Reagan in 1981, which was televised nationally in a truncated version and derailed his career for decades. Throughout the exhibition, Arceneaux combines sculptural object, historical record, and fictional text in an effort to complicate the construction and transmission of knowledge.

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Edgar Arceneaux is featured in the most recent PBS series Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 8 (2016). View the segment here.

About the Artist

Edgar Arceneaux (b. 1972 in Los Angeles) lives and works in Los Angeles. Arceneaux was the director of the Watts House Project from 1999-2012. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at Kunstverein Ulm, Germany; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; and the Project, New York, among others. He has been included in group shows at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris; Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Orange County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstmuseum Basel; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and many more.

Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire  is curated by Henriette Huldisch, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center

Download the Press Release

Support

Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Cynthia & John Reed and Terry & Rick Stone. The accompanying publication is generously supported by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels. The List Center is thankful to Alberta Chu & Murray Robinson for their additional support of the opening reception.
 
General operating support is provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the MIT School of Architecture + Planning, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many generous individual donors. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.

Further Reading

January, 1981

Inaugural Gala, Washington Post, Tom Shales

September, 2014

Intertwined Histories: Edgar Arceneaux Re-imagines Martin Luther King, KCET Artbound, Maxwell Williams

November, 2014

What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals, NY Times Magazine, Beverly Gage

December, 2014

Edgar Arceneaux A Book and a Medal: Disentanglement Equals Homogenous Abstractions, ArtReview, Ed Schad

Edgar Arceneaux, Modern Painters, Ariel Evans

November, 2015

The Past Never Returns, Flaunt Magazine, William J. Simmons

December, 2015

Pulling the Plug, Artforum, Jennifer Krasinski

 

  • Until, Until, Until…, 2016.
    HD video installation; spotlights, coat stand, makeup table, stool, clothing, hats, shoes, drop curtains, bar, monitors, book. Co-commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Performa. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Until, Until, Until…, 2016.
    HD video installation; spotlights, coat stand, makeup table, stool, clothing, hats, shoes, drop curtains, bar, monitors, book. Co-commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Performa. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Until, Until, Until…, 2016.
    HD video installation; spotlights, coat stand, makeup table, stool, clothing, hats, shoes, drop curtains, bar, monitors, book. Co-commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Performa. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Until, Until, Until…, 2016.
    HD video installation; spotlights, coat stand, makeup table, stool, clothing, hats, shoes, drop curtains, bar, monitors, book. Co-commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Performa. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Library of Black Lies, 2016
    Wood, mirror, glass, mylar, newspaper, hardbound books, sugar crystals, lighting fixture
    192 × 192 × 108 in. In collaboration with John K. Chan of Formation Association; Commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Library of Black Lies, (interior detail) 2016
    Wood, mirror, glass, mylar, newspaper, hardbound books, sugar crystals, lighting fixture
    192 × 192 × 108 in. In collaboration with John K. Chan of Formation Association; Commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Library of Black Lies, (interior detail) 2016
    Wood, mirror, glass, mylar, newspaper, hardbound books, sugar crystals, lighting fixture
    192 × 192 × 108 in. In collaboration with John K. Chan of Formation Association; Commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Library of Black Lies, (interior detail) 2016
    Wood, mirror, glass, mylar, newspaper, hardbound books, sugar crystals, lighting fixture
    192 × 192 × 108 in. In collaboration with John K. Chan of Formation Association; Commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  •  A Time To Break Silence, 2013
    Single-channel HD video with color and sound
    65 minutes

  • Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

  • A Book and A Medal II (Unredacted), 2014-2015 Five parts, silver, painting on mirrored glass, handcrafted steel frame and light boxes 41 ½ x 160 x 4 ½ in.
    Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

    Installation view Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2016
    Photo: Peter Harris Studio

Press Coverage

  1. A convoluted installation that explores history, culture, and society | The Tech | Krystal Lai

  2. At MIT, There's Smoke And Fire | Boston Globe | Sebastian Smee