Friday: Artist Fred Wilson in conversation with George Ciscle

April 28

Fred Wilson's "Mining the Museum," put on by The Contemporary Museum in 1992 at the Maryland Historical Society, was a landmark exhibition for both the artist and the nomadic institution. For this show, Wilson accessed the Maryland Historical Society's archives, pulling out and curating objects to highlight the ways in which the museum (not simply this particular one, but also the institution in general) participates in the oppression and exclusion of African-American and Native people, and how it perpetuates white supremacy. Some of the most memorable objects on display, according to reviews and essays on the show, included a KKK hood inside of an Edwardian-era baby carriage, iron slave shackles placed among fine silverware, and a whipping post next to ornate parlor chairs. In 2004, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter wrote about the project's impact: "['Mining the Museum'], which focused on excavating and recovering a specific history, American racial history, from a specific range of existing materials, brought a bracing, investigatory spirit to contemporary art." Twenty-five years later, the conversation that "Mining the Museum" contributed to is still relevant today (to choose an obvious example, see: Dana Schutz's offensively simple painting of Emmett Till at the Whitney Biennial and the discourse around it). Tonight, Wilson returns to Baltimore to talk with George Ciscle, MICA's curator-in-residence and the former founding director of The Contemporary. For those who can't make it to the talk in person, the event will be livestreamed on MICA's Facebook page. 7-8 p.m., Fred Lazarus IV Studio Center at MICA, 131 W. North Ave., (410) 669-9200, events.mica.edu, free. (Rebekah Kirkman)

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