HENRY "BOX" BROWN: FOREVER (2012)

Featured Long Durational Work

Henry "Box" Brown: FOREVER (2012), Wilmer Wilson IV

Duration: 18 hours, six hours each day

Text by Wilmer Wilson IV
Cover photograph by Bree Gant, © Wilmer Wilson IV, courtesy CONNERSMITH

"Henry 'Box' Brown: FOREVER" (2012) was a suite of three public performances completed in Washington, DC in 2012 by the artist Wilmer Wilson IV. The artist began the performance by meticulously encasing his bare body within a second skin made of US postage stamps. He then walked through DC's neighborhood communities to a nearby post office and asked the clerk to be mailed.

After being rejected, he returned to his starting point and shed the stamp skin. This action happened over the course of three days and in three separate neighborhoods, engaging a diverse swath of DC's city residents. The piece alluded to Henry "Box" Brown, a 19th century American slave who escaped North, to freedom, by mailing himself in a box. The performance was commissioned by 5x5 project, as a part of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities program.



Wilmer Wilson IV is an American interdisciplinary artist working primarily in performance, photography, and sculpture. He has shown work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (USA) and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (USA). In the spring of 2012 he received a commission to complete a suite of 3 public performances, collectively titled “Henry ‘Box’ Brown: FOREVER”, for the 5x5 Public Art Biennale in Washington, DC. In 2014 he was an Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (Italy) and in 2013 completed a residency at NLS (Jamaica). Wilson’s work is in public and private collections internationally, including the Birmingham Museum of Art (USA) and 21c Museum-Hotel (USA). He received his BFA from Howard University (DC) in 2012, and is a 2015 MFA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania (PA). His gallery profile can be found here.