Art exhibition perceives ‘Nacierma’ in new light

Kellie Bowen, Staff Writer

A San Francisco-based artist is holding his first Oregon solo exhibition at the Linfield Gallery. The exhibition is titled “A scene from the Anthropocene” and will be on display until April 30.

Michael Arcega’s exhibition twists the outsider-insider ideals of national identity. Descriptions on the gallery walls continuously mention the term, “Nacirema,” which is “American” spelled backwards. It is a term that is common in anthropology and sociology studies to refer to the behavior and social trends and issues in the U.S.

There is a story of exploration within this exhibition. Arcega crafted a canoe, which he named Baby, and traveled along waterways all over the nation to collect items for his show.

The exhibition holds an interesting concept, but the contents and placement are a little confusing.

On its own, each piece in the exhibition is beautiful and compelling. As a whole, they are a collection of items from a first-world culture from both the past and future.

However, the “timelines” from which the objects seem to come from are both a rusted, extinct era of humanity as well as a chrome, laser-show human-populated future. It is unclear whether these items are from a dead era or an era which is simply looking into its history.

iPhones and keyboards are on display as “relics” from the Nacirema, but there are colorful dancing lasers, foil emergency blankets and a tinsel bell piñata.

Arcega was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when he was 10 years old. He earned a Bachelor of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master’s of fine arts from Stanford University.

His work has been exhibited in several Asian and American galleries and museums.

Arcega’s work focuses on language and sociological dynamics. He usually works around situations with unbalanced power relations. He is currently an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University.