Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall

Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall

Walker Art Center

Installation view of A Johnson Publishing Story (June 28–September 30, 2018) at Theaster Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago. Photo: David Sampson. Courtesy the artist and Rebuild Foundation.

August 27, 2019
Theaster Gates
Assembly Hall
September 5, 2019–January 12, 2020
Walker Art Center
725 Vineland Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Thursday 10am–9pm

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“How do we deal with abandonment, ruin, decay? How do we start to imagine ourselves as deeper caretakers of the things that exist in the world?” —Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates’s multifaceted practice includes sculpture, installation, performance, and architectural interventions. An important aspect of his work entails reclaiming and revitalizing abandoned buildings in neighborhoods across Chicago’s South Side. These spaces, which include Dorchester Projects and the Stony Island Arts Bank, have become catalysts for creative and cultural gatherings, and now serve as repositories for thousands of objects that the artist has collected. Taking things that have been cast aside from libraries, archives, and other collections, Gates asks us to consider what it means to invest objects with new meanings through the simple acts of conversation, conservation, creation, and care.

Assembly Hall brings a number of Gates’s collections into a museum context for the first time. The Walker’s galleries will be transformed into a total work of art that transposes several of the artist’s vast collections and studio environment into four immersive rooms, each infused with his poetic interventions. Included are selections from 60,000 slides of art/architectural history from the University of Chicago Glass Lantern Slides; books, periodicals, furniture, and other ephemera from the 15,000-piece Johnson Publishing Company Collection; a range of objects from the Ana J. and Edward J. Williams Collection of “negrobilia”; and ceramic pots and other wares that the artist has made or collected over the past decade. Taken together, these items speak to Gates’s “deep belief in the objects and histories of African American material culture” and capture moments of celebration and inspiration, exclusion and marginalization, renewal and invention.

In 2017 Gates unveiled his first permanent outdoor commission, Black Vessel for a Saint (2017), in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Composed of custom-made black bricks, the temple-like structure provides a space for gathering and reflection as well as a permanent home for a salvaged statue of Saint Laurence, the patron saint of librarians and archivists.

Curated by Victoria Sung, assistant curator, Visual Arts; with William Hernández Luege, curatorial fellow, Visual Arts.

Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall is organized by the Walker Art Center. Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Martin and Brown Foundation. Additional support is provided by Deborah and John Christakos and Donna and Jim Pohlad.

Related Events
Opening-Day Talk: Theaster Gates and Hamza Walker
September 5, 7pm
Join the artist and Hamza Walker, director of LAXART, for a lively discussion about Gates’s practice, the new exhibition, and the artist’s work with archives and collections.

Pop-Up Tea
September 5–January 9, 6–9pm
Join us Thursday evenings for a complimentary cup of tea in Gates’s ceramics room.

Featured Playlist: Theaster Gates
September 5–January 9
A curated playlist of Gates’s moving image works is available in the Bentson Mediatheque, screening daily during the run of the show.

Gallery Talk: Visual Histories
Sep 26 and Oct 3, 6:30 pm
Join artists Anthony Konigbagbe and Brad Ogbonna with Walker photographer Bobby Rogers as they discuss ways they reimagine the Black Is Beautiful aesthetic through their work as social influencers and contemporary visual historians.

Gallery Talk: Remember, Forget
October 10, 6:30pm
Artist and black feminist scholar Tia-Simone Gardner hosts a discussion on archives across the Twin Cities, particularly those formed in relation to the lives of African Americans, people of color, and Indigenous individuals.

About the artist
Theaster Gates (US, b. 1973) lives and works in Chicago. His projects have transformed the raw material of urban neighborhoods into radically reimagined vessels that serve as gallery, performance space, library, and community gathering place. Gates has received widespread international recognition for such presentations as Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr at the Venice Biennale (2015) and 12 Ballads for Huguenot House at Documenta 13 (2012). Recent solo exhibitions include Amalgam at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019), The Black Image Corporation at Fondazione Prada, Milan (2018); Black Madonna at Kunstmuseum Basel (2018); and Black Archive at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2016). He currently serves as a professor at the University of Chicago; an artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; and a visiting artist at Colby College, Waterville, Maine.

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Walker Art Center
August 27, 2019

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