Fred Wilson has long felt a compassionate connection to William Shakespeare’s Othello, whose powerful position as general of the Venetian army was undermined by prejudice, jealousy, and betrayal. In 2003, Wilson was chosen to represent the United States at the 50th Venice Biennale. Inspired by Othello’s precarious circumstance as a black man in seventeenth-century Venice, Wilson collaborated with master glass makers on the island of Murano to create Speak of Me As I Am (Chandelier Mori), a black chandelier of a type that once graced the finest palaces along Venice’s Grand Canal, to install in the American pavilion at the Biennale. To Die Upon a Kiss—the redemptive final words of the hero of The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice (ca. 1603)—features uniquely colored glass that changes from crystal clear to gray to deepest black, simulating the slow ebb of life, as well as the fluid concept of race.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Fred Wilson, American, born 1954
  • To Die Upon a Kiss
Date 2011
Medium Murano glass
Dimensions Overall: 70 × 68 1/2 × 68 1/2 inches (177.8 × 174 × 174 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, W. Hawkins Ferry Fund
Accession Number 2012.53
Department African American Art
Not On View
2012-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)