The approach that has made him well-known consists of using lost property as vectors of a constant cultural and institutional critique. Wilson uses different tools to constantly explore the racial and ethnic marginalization of the black American community and this in a personal and introspective way. The artist turns uses the symbolic power of objects and materials that invokes not only his subjective experience, but also the avatars of history and its dark moments. His work has a strong material and aesthetic presence and stimulates the continuous questioning of human nature.
Fred Wilson has received many prizes and awards and he is a member of the board of directors of the Whitney Museum of Art, New York. He was elected Chairman of the board of directors of the Sculpture Center in New York in 2002. The same year he was awarded the prestigious Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. He received a honoris causa doctorate from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in 2007.
From bringing together objects that are in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements and having things presented in the way he wants to see them, Wilson creates completely original environments in his exhibitions. He uses objects and artefacts from museum collections to complete his devices, including wall labels, sounds, lighting and the non-traditional pairing of objects.
His installations lead viewers to recognize that changes in context create changes in meaning. While appropriating curatorial methods and their strategies, Wilson maintains his subjective point of view of the artistic environment. He challenges and forces the viewer to challenge the interpretations of historical truth, consensual artistic values, presentation devices and emphasizes the partiality and partisan spirit of our cultural institutions.
Ami Barak, curator and art critic