Art21 Extended Play

Fred Wilson Talks Beauty and Ugliness

FW Beauty & Ugliness Upload 2 copy 2

Detail of Fred Wilson’s installation Speak of Me as I Am at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003. Production still from the series Exclusive. © Art21, Inc. 2014. Courtesy the artist.

“People have to deal with the fact that there is meaning in beauty, there is meaning in ugliness. I try to bring out that tension.” —Fred Wilson

In today’s Exclusive, 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.

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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