Enter Edgar Arceneaux’s unassuming wooden structure—a low, irregular-sided wooden shack—and find yourself in a parallel-world library of sugar-crystal-clouded books. Their titles may be or merely recall the Western canon, like a sequence including the clearly referential Birth of a Nation and the murkier Birth of a Night, Nation Goodnight, and finally, Goodnight Moon. According to museum materials, this installation—first exhibited in Paris in 2016—concerns Arceneaux’s preoccupations with history, memory, and our subjective human reconstructions of both. The result looks like a cramped, mazelike hideaway, a metaphor for the limits imposed on our views of the past by our own need for containment. By amassing references to many different narratives, Arceneaux constructs an anti-narrative of history.
by Joule Zelman
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