"I trust the visual to communicate my ideas. I try to unlock the meaning of objects and eliciting a conversation by juxtaposing between them that creates an unexpected, but essential, thought." - Fred Wilson
"I get everything that satisfies my soul from bringing together objects in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements, and having them presented in the way I want to see them." - Fred Wilson
Five busts of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti that question what we think we know about the ancient world. The original bust by an anonymous artist has long been a staple of art history texts. Grey Area (above) by the American artist Fred Wilson makes visible our changing understanding of who historical figures actually were.
After stints at the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Natural History (on opposite sides of Central Park) Wilson realized that the two institutions presented similar objects in widely divergent ways. He has come to specialize in presenting objects based on considerations that may be unimportant to most curators or that have gone unnoticed until Wilson put things together. Mining the Museum he called it when he restaged galleries at the Maryland Historical Society in 1991. In a technique he has often used, Wilson renamed a painting Country Life that showed a plantation family at leisured Frederick Serving Fruit for a young black slave boy in the picture. This In a nearby vitrine, Wilson paired a stark set of slave shackles surrounded by an .... adorned silver tea service, the embodiment of wealth produced by slave labor.
A last minute addition, Wanderer was a black-face courtier figure Wilson saw in the lobby of the hotel he was staying at. He replaced the face with a globe whose black oceans were crisscrossed by by white dotted lines that trace the routes of ships used in the slave trade.
Simone Leigh will be the first black American woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale in 2022.
For more about Fred Wilson
1. Fred Wilson - Grey Area - pant, plaster, and wood, 1998, Brooklyn Museum. 2. Fred Wilson - Atlas, 1992, paint, plaster, and wood, Denver Museum of Art. 3. Fred Wilson - Wanderer, 2003, painted wood and printed paper, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA.