Theaster Gates. The Black Monastic

7 — 19 Sep 2014 at Serralves Museum Contemporary Art, Porto

20 AUGUST 2014
Theaster Gates, My Labor is My Protest Performance, White Cube, London, 2012. Photo: Sara Pooley. Courtesy the artist
Theaster Gates, My Labor is My Protest Performance, White Cube, London, 2012. Photo: Sara Pooley. Courtesy the artist

Artist and musician Theaster Gates will be in “monastic retreat” with his musical ensemble The Black Monks of Mississippi at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary from 7 to 19 September. This will be the first presentation of work by Gates in Portugal.

Conceiving the Museum, the Serralves Villa and gardens as a place of meditation and a cosmology of art and nature, Gates will develop a new chapter in what he has described as ‘The Black Monastic’, that responds to the notions and histories of space within the nuanced contexts of race and the political sphere. The Black Monastic will be structured according to 19 moves, both public and private that will involve performed actions, sermons and readings, exercises with musical instruments, concerts, periods of contemplation, and audio and film recordings. Some events will take the form of scheduled public performances by Gates and The Black Monks, some will introduce themselves into the public´s daily experience of the museum, while others will be part of a “monastic” reflection and research.

Founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation, Professor of Visual Art and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago, Theaster Gates has developed an artistic practice that includes object making, performance, and gestures that interrupt and challenge our notions of the political and the cultural. For Gates, questions of recuperation – of buildings and objects and their histories – and of labor, civil rights and civic participation, are at the heart of his formally seductive sculptural and performance works. Describing his working method as ‘critique through collaboration’ – with architects, artists, musicians and researchers, Gates creates loaded narratives of community, and expands the idea of what we understand a visual-based art to be.

The artist’s most ambitious project till now is the ongoing real estate development known as ‘The Dorchester Project’. In late 2006, the artist purchased an abandoned building in Dorchester Avenue on Chicago’s South Side, collaborating with a team of architects and designers to gut and refurbish the buildings using various kinds of found materials. The building and, subsequently, several more in its vicinity, have become a hub for cultural activity housing a book and record library and becoming a venue for choreographed occasions entitled ‘Plate Convergences’, concerts and performances. Gates describes his project as ‘real- estate art’, part of a ‘circular ecological system’ since the renovations of the buildings are financed entirely by the sale of sculptures and artworks that were created from the materials salvaged from their interiors.

Theaster Gates was born in Chicago, in 1973, where he currently lives and works. Gates’ work has been shown at major museums and galleries internationally. Among his recent solo exhibitions are “A Way of Working”, The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, New York (2013); “My Back, My Wheel and My Will”, White Cube São Paulo and Hong Kong (2013); “Soul Manufacturing Corporation”, Locust Projects, Miami (2012); “My Labor is My Protest”, White Cube, London (2012); and “An Epitaph for Civil Rights”, LA MOCA, Los Angeles (2012). A selection of his recent group exhibitions includes Salon 94, New York (“More Material”, 2014), Kunstmuseum Krefeld (“Living in the Material Orange”, 2014), Whitechapel Art Gallery (“The Spirit of Utopia”, 2013), Art Basel Unlimited 2013 and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012).

Gates has realised projects and residencies at Harvard University, Cambridge (2010-2011); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); the Armory; and the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago (2011). He has received awards and grants from Creative Capital Grant, New York (2012); Harpo Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha (2010); Harvard Loeb Fellowship, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge (2010); Artadia New York, International Studio and Curatorial Program Residency, New York (2010); Joyce Award, Chicago (2009); Artadia Award, New York (2009); and Graham Foundation Architecture Award, Chicago (2009).

Serralves Foundation

Rua Dom João de Castro,210
Porto 4150-417 Portugal
Tel. +351 808 200 543

Opening hours

Tuesday - Friday from 10am to 7pm
Saturday & Sunday from 10am to 8pm

Related images

1, 3, 4 & 6. Theaster Gates, Documenta Performance with The Black Monks of Mississippi, 2012. Courtesy Kavi Gupta, Chicago | Berlin
2. Theaster Gates, My Labor is My Protest Performance, White Cube, London, 2012. Photo: Sara Pooley. Courtesy the artist
5. Theaster Gates, Feast Performance with The Black Monks of Mississippi, 2012. Photo: Sara Pooley. Courtesy the artist