Robin Arseneault: Falling Off The Log

July 23 - December 18, 2022

Robin Arseneault’s work fights with itself. It is performative, provocative, and luxurious one minute, and silly, self-deprecating, and raw the next. Layers of meaning are first constructed—often through sketches, small collages of found photographs, and ink drawings— then information is intentionally wiped away, removed, torn apart, or erased. The final work emerges from the tension between finding stability and the absurdity or inevitability of destruction that her process requires.

Central to this exhibition are twelve large sculptures that started from a set of small palm-sized pieces of driftwood purchased from an online estate sale of a recently deceased artist from New York City. Initially attracted by their individual shapes as well as their collective potential to signify a kind of language, after receiving the box of driftwood, Arseneault immediately wanted to push the boundaries of scale, to move them away from something precious to hold, to something more emblematic of or relational to the entire body. A parallel interest in choreography and the ways in which dance implicates our bodies into dialogue with one another found affinity with this new material. Arseneault takes the duet or dancing couple as a starting gesture, then conceives of a separation or more violent tearing apart, which highlights many of the artist’s conceptual concerns: the imperfection of material, the instability of form, and the incongruous nature of relationships.

Much like the title of the exhibition, Falling Off The Log, Arseneault’s work embraces failure—the shuffling, twisting, tripping-into-a-fall-as-one-exits-the-stage kind of failure that is equally pathetic as it is hilarious. Yet the work is also guarded, and carries an emotional depth that does not define nor reveal its source; it only suggests that it lies somewhere in between the ripped seam that divides one into two, between the friction of two bodies, in the moment between balancing then falling.

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