Trophy Room serves as a portrait of the Nacirema/American culture. The installation is informed by parallels between the European Wunderkammern and the American yard sale display. This artwork also combines two synchronous narratives. The first centers language, Arcega employs sign-painting techniques and wordplay reminiscent of his graffiti and cultural roots. Words and phrases are carefully reversed, creating an unfamiliar visual language that upends viewer's perceptions of the familiar text. This linguistic endeavor reflects Arcega’s ongoing work to redefine and reclaim language in the context of identity and cultural background. The second narrative involves Nacirema objects collected since 2011, as part of the BABY- Corps of Re-Discovery, precariously stacked and arranged to symbolize the fragility and complexity of national identities. It puts into question notions of ownership, naming and commemorating as a way to concretize a national narrative.
[Installation views of Bay Area Now 9. Courtesy Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Photographs by Charlie Villyard]