Wilmer Wilson IV

Wilmer Wilson IV

Wilson IV


NorthEast Region of USA
Wilmer Wilson IV
Finding creative possibility in the manipulation of his own body, Wilmer Wilson IV creates work that questions our understanding of identity and blackness in the United States. In his performance work Henry “Box” Brown: FOREVER, Wilson covered his body in thousands of postage stamps, walked through the streets of Washington, DC to a post office, and asked to be mailed to freedom. The performance referenced the real life story of Henry Brown, an American slave who achieved freedom by mailing himself to the free North in 1849. Wilson’s work used the medium of his own black body to underline the enduring legacy of racism in the United States. The layer of stamps—each emblazoned with the word FOREVER—formed a second, painful skin that inflicted innumerable tiny scratches over the course of the performance. The endurance required of the artist references both Brown—who remained still and silent inside his small box for 27 hours—and performance art since the 1960s, which has often featured feats of bodily endurance.

My work is in conversation with the history of performance art, and these intense bodily and physical actions. So I try not to succumb to the fear of momentary discomfort.

— Wilmer Wilson IV