Edgar Arceneaux (b. 1972 in Los Angeles) lives and works in Los Angeles. He was the director of the Watts House Project from 1999-2012. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at the List Museum at MIT, Cambridge; Kunstverein Ulm, Germany; Kunstmuseum Basel; the Studio Museum Harlem, New York, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. He has been included in the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and in group exhibitions at Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Orange County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, amongst others. Upcoming exhibitions are at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and The Baltic Center, England.
Edgar Arceneaux’s first live work, Until, Until, Until…, investigates the infamous 1981 performance of Broadway legend Ben Vereen, televised nationally as part of Ronald Reagan's inaugural celebration.
Intended as an homage to vaudevillian Bert Williams—America’s first mainstream black entertainer—the final 5 minutes of the performance were censored for the television audience, causing Vereen’s biting commentary on the history of segregation and racist stereotypes in performance to be lost on viewers at home. Until, Until, Until… is based on the footage that never aired that night. Arceneaux’s commission, a mise-en-scène of the inaugural party, foregrounds the past, illuminating the enduring presence and impact of history in the present. The piece questions the truth of past narratives, and creates an opportunity to reconsider our collective understanding of historic events. The performance immerses the audience in the scenery of the presidential celebration, where the relationships between past and present, experience and memory, and fantasy and reality are blurred as they are filtered through time and the television screen.