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Aftermath

January 22 through July 20, 2003

Fred Wilson creates an new installation on the theme of war and violence, with works from prestigious museum collections at UC Berkeley.

In conjunction with the exhibition Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations, 1979–2000 (January 22 through July 20), the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is pleased to present a new installation by Wilson. Aftermath addresses themes of conflict and war and the ways in which they can be seen within material culture. The exhibition, which opens on January 22 and runs through July 20, 2003, draws upon the important collections of BAM/PFA and UC Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

As an artist in residence at UC Berkeley this fall, Fred Wilson worked with students from various departments and with staff from both BAM/PFA and the Hearst Museum to devise this unique exhibition. Wilson and the students studied both collections, which together represent an extraordinary expanse of art and material culture, from Egyptian and classical Greek and Roman sculpture to European and American art of the modern era; from Asian to Native American art and artifacts.

While Wilson worked in the storage rooms of BAM/PFA and the Hearst Museum he was aware of constant references to war made in local and national media. As he studied the vast collections, Wilson observed that world events are represented within material culture, and that few if any cultures exist unaffected by war or conflict. In contrast, war itself is rarely represented within museums. Traditional exhibitions on the subject include displays of armor and weapons, but typically emphasize the object's aesthetic importance ahead of the violent reality of war. Similarly, museums might present works of art without acknowledging that stylistic development is often the result of tremendous conflict. In Aftermath, Wilson aims to remind the viewer of the horror and chaos of war by evoking what is left—the aftermath— when the violence has ended. The installation will be reminiscent of a ruin site or archaeological dig, and will also incorporate objects presented in a more traditional style of museum display. Wilson's hope is that this exhibition will address wide-ranging issues including the collection and display practices of museums, a worldwide history of violence, and the insanity of war.

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology is internationally renowned for the quality and scope of its collections, which are among the finest in North America and which represent a major resource for scholars from all over the world. The Hearst Museum was founded in 1901 by Phoebe Hearst, who sponsored expeditions within California as well as to Egypt and Peru, to the Mediterranean for classical antiquities, and to highland Guatemala for Mayan textiles. This material forms the nucleus of the museum's extensive holdings. In subsequent years the museum acquired major collections from peoples of the Arctic, Africa and Oceania; today, nearly every culture, past and present, is represented.

The BAM/PFA's collection of more than 13,000 objects is characterized by themes of artistic innovation, intellectual exploration, and social commentary, and reflects the central role of education to the BAM/PFA's mission. The museum was founded in 1963 following the donation by artist Hans Hofmann of forty-seven paintings and $250,000; today the BAM/PFA's collection of work by Hofmann remains the largest in any museum internationally. Over three decades the collection has evolved with particular strengths in historical and contemporary Asian art; early American painting; mid-20th century; conceptual and contemporary international; California; and Bay Area art. Highlights include important works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Albert Bierstadt, Paul Gauguin, Helen Frankenthaler, Jay deFeo, Joan Brown, Jonathan Borofsky, and Shirin Neshat. Significant additions in recent years include the Jean and Francis Marshall Collection of Indian miniatures, and selected works from the renowned collection of Chinese painting belonging to UC Berkeley Emeritus Professor James Cahill and Cahill family members.