Fred Wilson

The Archives

Nov 1 – Dec 17, 2022

Fred Wilson has long investigated the meanings of symbols and objects as part of his multidisciplinary, research-based practice, conjuring new interpretations and associations to reframe social and historical narratives. Known for his museum interventions that pose incisive institutional critiques, Wilson works across sculpture, painting, photography, collage, printmaking, and installation. Central to Wilson’s interdisciplinary practice are his investigations of the mutable nature of reclaimed objects. Refashioning and recontextualizing readymade objects through his own artistic revisions, Wilson imbues them with personal and historical import—legacies of colonialism and erasures of Blackness in Western European art are at stake in his exchanges with these objects of different geographic and temporal origins.

Wilson’s works are the subject of this online exhibition, which continues through December 17 and features eight idiosyncratic objects spanning between 1992 and 2011, along with his recent blown glass sculptural installations Play (2021) and Fluid Fluke (2021). Among the objects on view are Art World (1994), a cardboard globe from which Wilson removed the continents of Africa and South America; Goin’ Places (2003), for which a Murano glass candlestick depicting a headless Black figure is exhibited beside a large sculpture of a head; and Untitled (Zadib, Sokoto, Tokolor, Samori, Veneto, Zanzibar, Dhaka, Macao) (2011), featuring a plaster figure holding a globe with black tassels indicating significant locations within the African diaspora.

This online exhibition is accompanied by an interview with Wilson, conducted by critic Darla Migan and captured in a new film. Of the many meanings embedded in the objects in this show, Wilson says, “I want people to see these works as I see them and I try to, without hitting people over the head, allow them to think … and either make sense of it or not.”

Fred Wilson, Art World, 1994, cardboard globe with wooden base, 12" x 9" x 9" (30.5 cm x 22.9 cm x 22.9 cm)
Fred Wilson, Inside Story, 1995, glazed ceramic found objects, 8" x 12" x 8" (20.3 cm x 30.5 cm x 20.3 cm)

At this point I had sort of shifted it because it was really about that time and that the art world was only the United States and Europe, and all these other places were just not there.

Fred Wilson, on Art World

Fred Wilson, Untitled (Zadib, Sokoto, Tokolor, Samori, Veneto, Zanzibar, Dhaka, Macao), 2011, illuminated plastic globe, acrylic paint, tassels, steel armature, plaster figure, and powder coated aluminum plate, 28" x 20" x 20" (71.1 cm x 50.8 cm x 50.8 cm)
Fred Wilson, Untitled, 1992, plaster, 23-1/2" x 15-3/4" x 11" (59.7 cm x 40 cm x 27.9 cm)
Fred Wilson, Goin' Places, 2003, Murano glass, candlestick: 13" x 6-1/2" x 8" (33 x 16.5 x 20.3 cm); head: 11-1/2" x 5" x 10" (29.2 x 12.7 x 25.4 cm)

Fred Wilson, Installation view, Speak of Me As I Am (featuring Goin' Places, 2003), United States Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2003, photography by R. Ransick; A. Cocchi © Fred Wilson

I wanted people to understand that perhaps the body is just stuck in Venice, but his brain, his mind, his future was going somewhere—or was already elsewhere.

Fred Wilson, on Goin' Places

Fred Wilson, Snuff, 2003, Painted wood, plastic hoses, fire extinguishers and metal clamps © Walker Art Center, 69" x 44" x 44" (175.3 cm x 111.8 cm x 111.8 cm)
Fred Wilson, Inside Out II (What's love got to do with it?), 1995, glazed ceramic and porcelain found objects, and Plasticine, 6-1/2" x 5" x 6-1/4" (16.5 cm x 12.7 cm x 15.9 cm)
Fred Wilson, Untitled, 1993, painted cast plaster with beaded necklace and pendant, 12" x 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" (30.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 16.5 cm)

Beauty is misused largely, or misunderstood. Beauty can really cover over a host of sins, like makeup ... When it gets fetishized or manipulated, it’s meant to control how you think about something. In my way, I use beauty to reveal the ugliness.

Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson, Play, 2021, blown glass, 10-5/8" × 4" × 1-5/8" (27 cm × 10.2 cm × 4.1 cm)
Fred Wilson, Fluid Fluke, 2021, blown glass, 21" × 5-7/8" × 2-3/4" (53.3 cm × 14.9 cm × 7 cm)
To inquire about works by Fred Wilson, please email us at
  • Past, Fred Wilson, The Archives, Nov 1, 2022