Edgar Arceneaux Featured in Taipei Biennial: Small World

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On view through March 24, the 2023 Taipei Biennial: Small World brings together more than 50 international and local artists and musicians, transforming the Taipei Fine Arts Museum into a space of listening, gathering, improvising, and exploring alternative ways to perceive and apply the lessons learned from the pandemic. One of the new works featured in the exhibition is Skinning the Mirror, created by CalArts alum Edgar Arceneaux (Art MFA 01).

In Skinning the Mirror, glass shards and disfigurements become metaphors for the fragmentary nature of self-understanding and the inadequacy of historical narratives, challenging conventional notions of wholeness and normalcy.

Arceneaux “skins” the mirrors by separating the reflective metal backing from the rigid glass substrate and applying the silvery coating onto canvas. As the silver interacts with the air and bonds with the nitrogen in the atmosphere, the artwork transforms and evolves over time. However, despite the living process within the work, Arceneaux compares the loose-hung canvases to death shrouds, since “the mirrors were once ‘alive,’ serving the purpose for which they had been produced, and are now ‘dead’: broken, fragmented, torn, skinned, and their chemical viscera placed on view,” according to the exhibition website.

Curated by Freya Chou, Brian Kuan Wood, and Reem Shadid, the 2023 Taipei Biennial explores the ways a “small world” can reflect both the potential for greater control over one’s own life, and also the threat of isolation from a larger community following a global pandemic. The theme echoes a suspended state of being, where communities struggle to join together or separate entirely. More about the biennial from the curators:

“The small world is a lonely and entitled place that we have lost parts of ourselves and our societies to, but it may also be a place that welcomes strange acts of refusing to scale up or down, to amplify, unplug, move, or stay put. It might lure us towards illusions of impossible permanence and simplicity, towards absolute primacies and intoxicating authenticities that surpass all influences, but it also encourages us to betray the need to translate and be understood, to please others for some eventual benefit that never arrives.”

Based in Los Angeles, Arceneaux works across mediums including drawing, installations, video, and film to construct complex arrangements of association that examine implausible relations. His work has been presented internationally at institutions such as the Hammer Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel, Switzerland.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

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