Fred Wilson

White Columns

Fred Wilson’s simulated ethnographic institution entitled The Other Museum, 1990,is dedicated to precisely that which the traditional museum excludes. An alternative to “our” museum—a repository of artifacts that correspond to official History—Wilson’s installation proposes other ways of seeing, symbolized by an upside-down world map at the entrance; depending on how you look at it, north can be south; black, white; and the “other,” oneself.

Wilson plays off the old-fashioned, 19th-century colonial museum, recording the white man’s travels among the natives and his eventual disastrous impact on their civilizations. Groupings of old black-and-white documentary photographs by “Early Ethnographers and Other Photographers of European Descent” are juxtaposed with clusters of images by “Early Black and Native American Photographers.” The white mens’ photos predictably show noble savages—usually

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