The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 06, 2012

When Theaster Gates builds it, we should come

Posted by Anne Tschida

"Rickshaw For Sitting," Theaster Gates.

Theaster Gates has training as an urban planner as well as a sculptor (in fact, he got an MS in 2006 in Urban Planning, Ceramics and Religious Studies, dig that one). He works with structures, with public spaces and with the exploration of pure production. Which may be why the Chicago artist’s last show at London’s White Cube gallery was called “My Labor Is My Protest,” or why his much acclaimed installation at Germany’s dCUMENTA was titled “12 Ballads for Hugenot House.” Theaster leaves a big and broad imprint wherever he shows up, and he is showing up later this week at Locust Projects (a Knight Arts grantee).

Following in this tradition, Theaster will create “Soul Manufacturing Corporation” in Locust’s new gallery space. It will involve four pavilions, where four skilled “makers” will start, well, making stuff. To take care of the crafts-people and the art spectators, the Soul Corporation will host a yoga instructor and a DJ, among others. It’s a big, theatrical piece.

Locust has always been at its best when it has let artists literally intervene in the space – transform it, put a major mark on it, do things that other galleries often just don’t allow. Theaster’s installation/performance seems to fit right into this mold. The artist has been intervening all over the place, from major museums to the Whitney Biennial in 2010. This particular construction was initially birthed in Chicago, in collaboration with an urban redevelopment organization. Its Miami “development” arrives here with support his galleries of Kavi Gupta Gallery and White Cube, but also of locals such as Francie Bishop Good and David Horovitz, and Debra and Dennis Scholl. It’s a morphing project that adds quality structure to our arts scene.

“Theaster Gates: Soul Manufacturing Corporation” opens on Nov. 10 at Locust Projects, 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami;

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