|Theaster Gates, Diagonal Bitumen, 2014 (Wood, rubber and tar.)|
This is inspiring. Theaster Gates' achievements in the rejuvenation and cultural renewal of derelict areas of Chicago through creative projects are extraordinary. (Watch a TED video of Gates talking about the projects.)
These projects are funded by the sale of artworks principally made from materials salvaged from the derelict properties he has acquired. (He is fully alive to the paradox of the gallery objects functioning as high end commodities for the moneyed classes and funding the developement of deprived urban communities.)
In an interview with Tim Adams, Gates insists, "Biography and geography matter...". So, here is the potted biography: Gates was born in 1973 in the West Side of Chicago to a schoolteacher mother and a father who worked as a roofer - his father bequeathed him his 'tar kettle' and collaborated on the tar 'paintings'; he was the youngest of 9 children and the only boy. He has degrees in Urban Planning and Ceramics (his creative practice is rooted in pottery) and began a career in 'city hall': “I realised it was actually developers who changed cities. It bugged me that the people with the most agency, the most entrepreneurial spirit, were also the people with the least consciousness about the needs of a place. I went after having more agency…”. And so, following the banking crash in 2008 he bought a bungalow in Chicago's South Side turned it into an 'archive' and 'soul food kitchen' and opened it up to the neighbourhood. So began the Dorchester Projects and the acquisition of many more buildings, including a derelict bank and the contents of closed down bookshops, record stores and hardware stores.
On 23 January 2015 Gates was awarded the £40,000 Artes Mundi prize in Cardiff - and elected to share the money with the other nominees: "Let's split this motherfucker!"
On 29th June 2015 details will be announced of his first UK public project to take place in Bristol.
Read the interview with Tim Adams; read an interview with Ben Eastham: Theaster Gates on How to Be “The Most Badass Artist in the World”; read a review of the White Cube show by Adrian Searle; watch a TED video of Gates talking about his work.
|Theaster Gates, Ground Rules (Free Throw Possibility), 2014 (Wood flooring.)|
|Theaster Gates, Tiki Teak, 2014 (Wood and roofing paper.)|
|Theaster Gates, Clearing, 2014 (Wood, rubber and tar.)|
|Theaster Gates, Gees Removed, 2014 (Wood, roofing substrate and tar.)|
|Theaster Gates, installation view, White Cube (left: Atlas, 2015; right: Shrug, 2015)|
|Theaster Gates, installation view, White Cube (Tarred Vessel in foreground).|
|Contents of hardware store bought by Theaster Gates|
|Derelict bank bought by Theaster Gates and transformed into 'Stony Island Arts Bank'|