Partner to the Status Quo

Artists Chicago Community

Fred Wilson's best exhibitions have lasting effects on the museums that he works with.

I generally don't talk about what the piece is going to be about because, throughout the process, I don't know what the piece is going to be about. It's kind of frustrating for the PR department of every institution, but I don't know what the piece is about until I've gone through this process. And I don't want to know, because I never wanted to be someone who goes to a community, a museum community or otherwise, and pretend I understand everything that there is to know about that community and to sort of say, "Well, here it is, and take it or leave it," or, "This is what I think of you," or whatever.

It's important for me to go through a process of really kind of being a sponge and sort of pulling in all this information and coming up with something at the end that I don't necessarily fully know until it's all up and done. As I do this work, I always think about: am I becoming a partner to the status quo by being someone who comes into a space, does something that's temporary and then leaving? And then the institution has its critique of what they do, but then can still continue to do what they do. So what I try to do often, and with varying success, is make my mark in a very concrete way with individuals that I meet.

Installation view, OpEd: Fred Wilson, MCA Chicago, Apr 30–Aug 21, 1994. Photo © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, OpEd: Fred Wilson, MCA Chicago, Apr 30–Aug 21, 1994. Photo © MCA Chicago.

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