The pull towards embracing the natural world is ever present in the work of Javier Arce. The core theme
in this body of work is a specific place: his cabin in the woods in the Cantabrian Mountains. Like other
agricultural buildings, the structure is very simple, with a rectangular shape and very small rooms, and
built with materials from its surroundings. It is a dwelling in the simplest sense, not to impress but to
provide shelter from the elements and to exist in a constant dialogue with its owner. Like many of the first
dwellings that existed in now overpopulated cities, it continues in its idyllic existence until its tranquilty is
eventually destroyed by the very civilization that was created to advance it.
Featured in this exhibition are two carefully executed drawings on newsprint: Arbol which depicts the
felling of a sequoia tree and Walden Pond depicting a group of trees on the edge of a forest. Both pictures
are partially obscured by an abstract drawing, displayed in a landscape format. The censoring of
information continues in another piece where he utilizes the Unabomer’s manifesto as it was printed in
the New York Times to obscure the daily front page of the actual newspaper itself, an artwork that will
change each day of the exhibition. Kaczynski’s text is wrought with predictions that have been revealed
as reality in the daily newspaper. Arce’s work, although not as extreme in its message, sympathizes with
the idea of cherishing simplicity above the decaying nature of industry.
The use of borrowed text isn’t a new turn for Arce. In his video piece, Doblar la Tierra, pastoral images
are coupled with text from Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage, primarily a text about the importance of
individuality and freedom, concepts that have been in existence longer than religion, politics and reason.
When Jünger writes about the fragility of democracy, he reminds us that an election campaign is like a
show and as such requires a stage. Arce’s piece The Poor Man’s Friend recreates a poster for the William
Henry Harrison election campaign of 1840 depicting the cabin of Harrison’s youth. This campaign
presented the candidate as one from humble beginnings, circumventing the problematic issue of slavery
and winning him the election. Here the cabin is a symbol of humility, a structure unburdened by the
vanity of adornment.
Much of Arce’s work discusses the journey through life and the metaphorical forest that we venture
through. In Jünger’s philosophy, the passage through the forest is accessible for anyone willing to make
the trek. The cabin, which gives a physical representation to the state of limbo, is featured in the piece
which includes Arce’s own cabin door with an engraving of the cabin in its surroundings. The gateway is
here for us to decide if we will walk through.
Javier Arce (b. 1973, Santander, Spain) received his Honors Degree in Fine Art from the Baque Country University,
a degree in Engraving from the Escuela de Artes Aplicades in Oviedo, and his Masters in Sculpture from the
Wimbledon School of Fine Art. Arce has received several honors including Mencion de Honor Generacion 2007 in
Madrid, the Fundacion Arte y Derecho (2008) in Spain, and the International Studio & Curatorial Program grant
(2009) in New York. Arce continues to produce multi-disciplinary work and shows internationally.