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Beauty & UglinessFred Wilson
Filmed in 2004, Fred Wilson discusses how beauty and ugliness together create meaning. For his installation Speak of Me as I Am at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), Wilson arranged “blackamoors”—decorative sculptures common in Venice—throughout the American Pavilion.
In doing so, he called attention to how these beautiful objects depict Africans in servitude. Also shown in this film is Wilson’s piece Cabinetmaking, 1820–1960 (1992)—ornate nineteenth-century chairs juxtaposed with a whipping post—installed at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2004.More information and credits
Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Mead Hunt & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Judy Karp & Merce Williams. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Fred Wilson. Special Thanks: Maryland Historical Society & The Studio Museum in Harlem. Theme Music: Peter Foley.
Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.
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Appropriating curatorial methods and strategies, Fred Wilson creates new contexts for the display of art and artifacts found in museum collections, along with wall labels, sound, lighting, and non-traditional pairings of objects. His sculptures and installations lead viewers to recognize that changes in context create changes in meaning, and thereby shape interpretations of historical truth and artistic value.