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Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet

Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet from Block Museum on Vimeo.

Acclaimed artist and MacArthur fellow Fred Wilson shared insights into his work, Afro Kismet— resonant with themes of migration and history explored in the exhibition Caravans of Gold.

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Press Coverage

The Block Museum is frequently featured in national and local media. See our most recent mentions

Janet Dees and Kathleen Bickford Berzock Curators, Block Museum, Northwestern University The addition of Janet Dees (Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art) and Kathleen Bickford Berzock (Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs) to the Block Museum curatorial staff, in 2015 and 2013, respectively, has been a blessing to the university’s exhibition schedule. Under their curatorial expertise, the Block has made good on their mission to display visual art that looks broadly across cultures and time periods. Earlier this year, “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa,” had the biggest opening day in the museum’s history. Curated by Berzock, the exhibition was eight years in the making, and involved thirty-two lenders from six countries. Dees is at work on a 2021 exhibition that hopes to put contemporary conversations around anti-black violence into a historical context. Dees was a 2018 recipient of a curatorial fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and was recently named an affiliate of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.”
Kerry Cardoza, August 29, 2019
"Today it’s hard to throw a stone and not hit an art space of sorts—whether it’s in someone’s garage, apartment or a gallery or a museum proper. But, despite this ever-burgeoning community, Chicago still doesn’t get its due for being a global arts hub."”
Kerry Cardoza, July 17, 2019
The New York Review of Books
Part of the difficulty in conveying the importance of this region’s history has been its paucity of documentation, and the exhibition and its catalog make up for this spectacularly with their display of the region’s legacy of artifacts, from pottery shards to sculpture and gold weights and coins.”
Howard W. French, June 27, 2019 issue
Art in America
'Caravans of Gold' tells stories of exchange and of beauty, bringing African artisans, travelers, and tradespeople into the role usually occupied in our culture by heroic knights of medieval fiction. It replaces a vision of the Sahara as an empty space with the truth of the Sahara as a venue for movement and the generation of wealth. It replaces the blank spots in our historical vision with the simple fact of African people’s existence in and relevance to the medieval world. If this is the only lesson visitors take away with them from the Block out into the contemporary world and every museum they visit afterward, it will have been enough.”
Josephine Livingstone, April 1 2019
This collaborative research between archaeology and materials sciences confirms that the medieval Islamic goldsmiths of Tadmekka had not only found a way to work around the authorities by issuing unmarked dinars, but that they had also discovered an ingenious way to make the most out the gold deposits available to them.”
David Anderson, June 18, 2019

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