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Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Basel Presents Edgar Arceneaux Exhibition

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel presents Edgar Arceneaux Hopelessness Freezes Time – 1967 Detroit Riots, Detroit Techno and Michael Heizer’s Dragged Mass. Open September 24, 2011–January 1, 2012. Opening: September 23, 2011, 6.30 p.m.

Based on his interest in multiple reference systems, Edgar Arceneaux (*1972 in Los Angeles) constructs in his drawings, installations and video and film works a complex network of associations, connotations, and altered levels of meaning to undermine any conventional and linear narration. In an experimental field of comparisons, fractions, and combinations of various perspectives, generally accepted codes are questioned and usual patterns of perception destabilized.

Arceneaux explores the limits of our knowledge and seeks possibilities of extending them. He tries to explore the conditions of what it means to be human precisely at the interface of the lasting and the transitory, image and text, abstraction and figuration. His associative approach to such large and inscrutable topics often assumes fantasmatic forms and grotesque combinations. Thus he creates space for the beholder to participate actively in the search for the deeply rooted connections between ancient, universal, and contemporary history.

A conversation with the art historian Julian Myers was the point of departure for this project on which Arceneaux is continuously working, and which addresses the half-forgotten,half-suppressed urban struggles in the American industrial city of Detroit. Detroit—in the past the site of brutal race riots and social conflicts, more recently a symbol of economic decline—represents a place that demonstrates how social and economic forces exert a fundamental influence on the life of individuals. In large drawings, Arceneaux depicts the burnt-out ruins of pubs and bars, so-called “blind pigs,” which played a decisive role during the riots as illegal meeting points, and whose remnants are ubiquitous in Detroit even today. In the drawings, these ruins seem to float weightlessly in an undefined space; past and present seem to be united in a single physical reality.

A complicated triangular relationship is advanced by the work Borrowed Sun (2004), also included in the exhibition, where a poetic network between the astronomer Galileo Galilei, the jazz musicians Sun Ra, and the conceptual artist Sol LeWitt is spun. A confusing merging of reality, fiction, and illusion is also part of the project Agitation of Expansion (2007). Arceneaux’s approach, a kind of jamming of various cultural references that creates unexpected open connections between words, places, and figures, shows his interest in associative processes in history and memory.

An artist book was published with essays from Julian Myers, Edgar Arceneaux and Nikola Dietrich.

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel
St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
4010 Basel

Image: Edgar Arceneaux, “Untitled,” 2011. Charcoal, chalk and graphite on paper

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