Fred Wilson Talks Beauty and Ugliness
by Ian Forster | Feb 7, 2014
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.
As a producer and director, Ian Forster creates documentary content for Art21’s various digital and broadcast programs. Since joining the organization in 2009, he has worked on four seasons of Art in the Twenty-First Century
and the Peabody Award-winning film William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible
. Additionally, he has overseen the digital series Extended Play
since 2012, producing over 100 short artist portraits. Forster created the online video series Artist to Artist
in 2013, which has since featured artists in conversation with their peers at international biennials in Italy, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.