Volume 75, Number 29 | December 7 - 13, 2005

Photo by Gene Ogami

Edgar Arceneaux’s “Detail of The Immeasurable Equation.”

Indirect sunlight

By Laura Silver

“Borrowed Sun” by Los Angeles artist Edgar Arceneaux brings together three seemingly disparate luminaries in his new exhibit at The Kitchen. There is Galileo, who insisted against popular belief that a fiery star, not Earth, was at the center of the heavens. Musician Sun Ra, who considered himself Saturn-born and used jazz to further his Afro-Egyptian galactic view. And Sol Lewitt, whose 50-year career includes pioneering explorations of text and groundbreaking forays into minimalism and conceptual work.

Set in a windowless room, Arceneaux’s multimedia show points in many different directions, not unlike rays of the sun. It helps to have a guide, or at least a few handouts while navigating this cryptic but engaging territory, which revolves around the theme of sunlight. The sun was central to the life and work of now-beloved 17th-century Italian astronomer Galileo. Sun Ra (a reference to both the star and the Egyptian god) departed from his Birmingham birth name, Herman Poole Blount, as part of the reinvention of his identity in the 50’s, and Sol Lewitt’s first name translates to sun in Spanish and Latin.

Arceneaux references all three men, and the sun in general, using muted tones on the paper- and glass-based works on display. Projections of slides and film introduce an aurora borealis element into the dimly lit environment. “Blocking Out the Sun” (2004) introduces images of the artist’s hand in front of a changing sunset. A 16-millimeter film, “Permutation without Permission” (2004), chronicles Arce-neaux’s process of appropriating Lewitt’s “Wall Drawing #295.” He reproduces it on concrete blocks and reassembles it to form “Broken Sol” (2004). Other works pay homage to Galileo’s study of sunspots and “Space is the Place,” Sun Ra’s 1974 movie urging African Americans to join him on a pilgrimage to his birthplace.

A visit to this constellation of artworks has the potential to induce enlightened thinking. But if it’s real sunshine you’re craving, an unobstructed view of the Hudson is a block away.

“Borrowed Sun” is on view at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, through December 17.

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