Fred Wilson’s Sala Longhi/A Moth of Peace was inspired by the Pietro Longhi room of the Baroque palace Ca’ Rezzonico, which features a painting cycle depicting the daily life of the haute bourgeoisie in 18th–century Venice. Wilson’s installation evokes the Longhi gallery with 27 black glass panels in antique wood frames hung around three walls. At the center, a white Murano glass sconce extends out from a larger black glass panel and snakes down towards the floor, its lights illuminating the space. Done in response to, and balancing, the white sconce is ‘a moth of peace,’ Wilson’s first white chandelier, with its milky white glass punctuated with black.
Wilson has cut through each of the smaller black glass panels leaving vacant ellipses, corresponding with the faces of the Venetians in Longhi’s paintings and one larger one that replaces a rhinoceros. This act becomes a minimal yet potent expression of Wilson’s practice of juxtaposition and recontextualization while continuing his ongoing relationship with Venice and its centuries-long glass making tradition.
Fred Wilson (born 1954 in Bronx) uncovers marginalized history, negotiates identity, and questions the politics of display. Beginning with his groundbreaking exhibition ‘Mining the Museum’ (1992) at the Maryland Historical Society, he has staged provocative installations of appropriated artworks and artifacts from museum collections to encourage viewers to examine historical narratives, revealing undercurrents of ownership and privilege normalized by institutional practices. He lives and works in New York.
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