press release

Over the past 15 years, Los Angeles-based artist Edgar Arceneaux’s (b. 1972, Los Angeles) work in installation, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video has drawn connections between seemingly disparate narratives, concepts, and ideas. Taking inspiration from a wide-ranging set of sources including philosophy, history, astronomy, architecture, literature, music, and movies, his diverse subject matter is determined by both his critical curiosity as well as his intuitive reliance on coincidence.

Arceneaux’s List Center exhibition presents three major, interlocking projects that consider the contingency of historical, social, and cultural narratives. The body of work titled A Book and a Medal (2014), revolving around the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., reveals some of the artist’s signature preoccupations―science fiction and the contemporary urban landscape―and connects 1960s history with recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement and America’s ongoing military engagements overseas.

The Library of Black Lies (2016) constructs a labyrinthine book repository including “revised”—sugar-encrusted, painted, and burned—versions of books, while the new installation Until, Until, Until… (2016) examines Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial performance at the inaugural celebration for Ronald Reagan in 1981. As Arceneaux has stated, “I am constantly trying to figure out how to talk about big ideas through images that are somewhat familiar.” Throughout the exhibition, Arceneaux, driven by his persistent questioning of narratives of progress, combines sculptural object, historical record, and fictional text in an effort to complicate the construction and transmission of knowledge.

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

Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Cynthia & John Reed and Terry & Rick Stone. The List Center is thankful to Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, and Alberta Chu & Murray Robinson for their additional support of this exhibition.

General operating support is provided by the 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.