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January 7, 2001


UMBC's Fine Arts Gallery presents "Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations, 1979-2000," the first mid-career survey of the artwork by the internationally recognized artist, curated by Maurice Berger, curator of the Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibition, which consists of more than 100 objects, some reconfigured to re-create sections of Wilson's original installations, will be on view from October 11, 2001 through January 12, 2002. An opening reception will be held on October 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call (410) 455-3188 or visit

Following the Fine Arts Gallery viewing, "Objects and Installations" will travel to the Sara Campbell Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston, Texas; the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, California; and the Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley.

Over the past fifteen years, Fred Wilson has produced the most sustained and cogent inquiry into the complex relationship between the art object and the museum. His oeuvre, consisting of mock museum installations into which the artist places provocative and beautifully rendered objects, explore the question of how the museum consciously or unconsciously perpetuates racist beliefs or behavior.

If social justice is Wilson's ultimate subject, the museum itself becomes his medium - from the use of meticulously fabricated objects to the careful selection of wall colors, lighting, display cases and even wall labels. Wilson's incisive aesthetic and social inquiry focuses not only on the social implications of the content within the anthropological, historical or artistic medium but also on the powerful, historically encoded belief systems inherent to the art of museum display. Sometimes the artist reconfigures and supplements the collection of an actual museum - as in his extraordinary installation, "Mining the Museum," commissioned by the Maryland Historical Society in 1992. In that show, Wilson juxtaposed objects from the society's permanent collection with fabricated objects and wall labels. The resulting juxtapositions spoke to a complex history of museological omission, manipulation and oversight: in Cabinet Making, for example, Wilson poignantly counters a series of elegantly crafted American late 19th-century wooden chairs with a rarely exhibited wooden slave post.

In the end, Wilson's aesthetic commentaries reach across a wide museological and art historical expanse - from Egyptian and classical Greek and Roman sculpture to African-American memorabilia, the primativist painting of Picasso and the uniforms worn by the often black guards charged with the task of keeping America museums safe and secure.

"Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations, 1985-2000" will be accompanied by a major catalog and will feature essays by exhibition curator Maurice Berger and Jennifer Gonzalez, professor of art history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The catalog will be fully illustrated in black-and-white and color, and will also contain an interview with Wilson, complete catalog raisionné of his installations, a selected bibliography, list of exhibitions and checklist.

A major outreach initiative will accompany the exhibition. Programming components include a symposium on the cultural politics of the museum; a talk by Wilson; and a school outreach program, geared to primary and secondary students. in partnership with area museums. Organized by the Fine Arts Gallery, this school outreach program involves college interns drawn throughout the university who will participate with museum staff and school teachers in developing curriculum studies, guided tours and corresponding workshop activities in area schools.

Maurice Berger is a senior fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics of the New School for Social Research and curator of the Fine Arts Gallery, UMBC. He has taught and lectured at such institutions as Hunter College, Yale University, the DIA Center for the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. He has served as curator or has written catalog essays for such institutions as the Guggenheim Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Grey Art Gallery and Jewish Museum. His articles have appeared in numerous journals and newspapers, including the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, the Village Voice, October and Afterimage. He is the author of three books: Labyrinths: Robert Morris, Minimalism, and the 1960s (Harper and Row, 1989), How Art Becomes History (HarperCollins, 1992); and White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999). White Lies was named a finalist for the Horace Mann Bond Award given by Harvard University for the best book of African American interest, and is currently being made into a documentary by PBS. Berger was editor of Modern Art and Society: A Social and Multicultural Reader (HarperCollins, 1994) and The Crisis of Criticism (The New Press, 1998), and co-editor of Constructing Masculinity (Routledge, 1995).

Posted by dwinds1 at January 7, 2001 12:00 AM