“Until, Until, Until...”
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to announce Edgar Arceneaux’s seventh solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will feature the Los Angeles premiere of "Until, Until, Until…," the artist’s first theatrical work, which was commissioned for the 2015 Performa Biennial in New York. Both the play and the objects included in" Until, Until, Until…" are oriented toward themes of audiences and trauma, migration and displacement, erasure and reformation. They trace a long historical arc starting before the heyday of Bert Williams Vaudeville in the 1890’s and through and past Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980’s. In addition to the installation, which includes the theatrical set, sculptures, and new drawings, performances of the critically acclaimed piece will take place at the gallery at 8pm on June 2, June 3, and June 4. (Tickets are on sale through Eventbrite). Starring the actor Frank Lawson, "Until, Until, Until…" is a look back at Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial performance at Ronald Reagan’s inaugural celebration in 1981. At this event, Vereen, who had recently won a Tony Award for his performance in Pippin, staged a musical number in homage to the trailblazing vaudeville performer Bert Williams, who, because of racist laws dictating who could appear on stage, always performed in blackface. For his performance, Vereen also donned blackface, in order to access the vulnerability and reality of Williams’ legacy. Unfortunately, the television audience never saw the second half of Vereen’s performance, where the actor attended to the issue of race and blackface in Williams’ own words. The truncated version of his performance that was broadcast switched from his dazzling high kicks, the delighted faces of the Reagans and the Bushes, to the next number: the rockabilly country-pop of Donnie and Marie Osmond, omitting the crucial second part of Vereen’s performance. The incomplete broadcast triggered a devastating backlash amongst Vereen’s audience and followers and completely derailed his career.