Edgar Arceneaux
A Time To Break Silence, 2013
Parisian Laundry
22.10.14 – 20.12.14

The future-focused humanitarianism of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the leitmotif in both of Edgar Arceneaux’s works. In the film A Time To Break Silence, presented here as an installation, he specifically links two events from the 1960s as a means to ruminate on their legacies and implications for the future of American cities. The work is titled after Dr. King’s last major speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” in which he decries U.S. involvement in the war as an “enemy of the poor.” King was killed exactly one year later, in 1968, two days before Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered in Washington, D.C. In Arceneaux’s film, Dr. King reprises his speech in Detroit’s St. Anne church, which figures as a timeless ruin, while a prehistoric man named Stargazer fossicks. Both 2001 and Dr. King’s speech address technology in terms of a tool or weapon duality, a link amplified by Arceneaux’s collaboration with Underground Resistance, Detroit techno music innovators who produced the soundtrack for the film.

Edgar Arceneaux, A Time To Break Silence, 2013, single-channel HD video, colour, sound
 64 minutes (courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects)
Edgar Arceneaux, A Time To Break Silence, 2013, single-channel HD video, colour, sound
 64 minutes (courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects)
A Nobel Prize and a Bible, 2014
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
22.10.14 – 04.01.15

A Nobel Prize and a Bible begins with a partially redacted anonymous letter sent to Dr. King in 1964, calling for him to commit suicide or face severe consequences. Later revealed to be called the Suicide Package by its creators J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the letter was accompanied by tapes of FBI wiretaps outlining King’s extramarital liaisons. The letter itself contains redacted sections that are believed to refer to the content of the tapes.

The next five panels pivot at ninety degrees to the gallery wall, repeating these redactions as mirrored forms that reflect their environment: the room and viewer. Arceneaux refers to them as a four-dimensional shadow that traverses fifty years of time, a double metaphor alluding to the secrets of a man and his family as well as the invisible economic and ideological forces that are radically reshaping the U.S. In the seventh panel, referencing a statement from Dr. King’s daughter, Dr Bernice A King. King’s Nobel Peace Prize Medal and Bible have transitioned from symbols of a quest for social betterment to high-priced, rarefied relics compounding social and symbolic exchange value, tearing a family and a legacy apart in the process.

Edgar Arceneaux, A Nobel Prize and a Bible, 2014, seven parts: painting on mirrored glass, handcrafted steel frame and red and green light bulbs, 107.95 x 591.82 x 3.81cm (courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects)

Born in Los Angeles in 1972, Edgar Arceneaux is a graduate of Art Center College of Design (BFA, 1996) and the California Institute for the Arts (MFA, 2001). He lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented by the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI; REDCAT, Los Angeles; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Studio Museum Harlem, New York.

His work has also been featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Art, Oslo; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; Bronx Museum; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. His work may be found in many public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Orange County Museum of Art, CA; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2014 Arceneaux will have solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects and the Papillion Institute of Art, Los Angeles. He is represented by Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects and Galerie Praz Delavallade, Paris.


Panel - Edgar Arceneaux, Isabelle Hayeur, Étienne Tremblay-Tardif, Althea Thauberger

BNLMTL 2014: “L’avenir (looking forward)”
22/10/14 – 04/01/15

McCord Museum