The Mete of the Muse

“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”

― Alan Watts

The Mete of the Muse by Fred Wilson, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

From the New Orleans Museum of Art Website:

The Mete of the Muse juxtaposes an ancient Egyptian female figure painted with a black patina with a figure of a Greco-Roman woman, painted white. The work reflects on commingled histories of Europe and Africa, placing works from African and European cultural lineages side by side in order to “put in relief” and highlight the systemic privileging of European history stemming from racial and cultural biases ingrained in museum display. To create this work, Wilson bought plaster cast copies of ancient sculptures and had them cast in bronze. Like the histories they represent, these copies of copies have gone through so many transitions and translations that they have become completely untethered from their original meaning and context. When Wilson presents these sculptural works, he often includes a wall label and text that simply labels them “African Figure” and “European Figure” in order to show how racial and cultural biases often create sharp divides between black and white, despite the constantly shifting narrative these sculptures represent. As Wilson says, “I find that how things shift under our noses is really fascinating.”

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