The American artist Theaster Gates (*1973) builds a bridge between art and life with his work. He fascinates viewers with tense spacial constellations which make the network of relationships between stereotypical forms of representation and the power structures that underly them visible. By incorporating a multifaceted practice that unites sculpture, installation, film, performance, improvisation, musical composition and action in urban space, Theaster Gates transforms spaces into places of artistic and cultural intervention, and thus into potential platforms for political and social change.
For the sixth iteration of Haus der Kunst’s series “Der Öffentlichkeit”, Theaster Gates has created the expansive installation “Black Chapel”. The multipartite installation responds to the architecture of Haus der Kunst’s 800-square-foot Middle Hall, exposing it to a complex, politically and spiritually charged narrative. Two large pavilions as well as vitrines contain a variety of sculptures, photographs and documents. In addition, huge, illuminated, rotating panels show photographs from the archives of the iconic Johnson Publishing Company. The material was first published in “Ebony” and “Jet” magazines, two iconic publications that contributed significantly to the spread of black culture in the United States. The interplay of sculpture and photography opens up a space that evokes questions about black history, spirituality and representation, and rewrites them visually.
In the adjacent archive gallery, Theaster Gates also accesses the record collection owned by Jesse Owens. The athlete Jesse Owens (1913–1980) grew up in times of strict racial segregation in the United States and was accordingly valued little. At the Olympics in Berlin, the exceptional athlete won several gold medals in 1936 under the watchful eye of Adolf Hitler. His successes there were recorded by the controversial director and photographer Leni Riefenstahl, who created the propaganda film “Olympia”. The material can now be seen as part of a newly created film by Theaster Gates which enables a new critical view of racist image politics.
The paths of Jesse Owens and Leni Riefenstahl crossed again in 1972, when both traveled to the Olympics in Munich. The approach to the story of Jesse Owens‘ life through the sound of the over 1,800-plate collection and its reception, as well as the clash of the racist ideologies in the US and Germany that shaped the athlete’s lifetime, are particularly resonant in the context of Haus der Kunst’s fraught history.
The exhibition is curated by Anna Schneider.
Thursday, October 24, 2019, 7 pm,
Opening & Artist Talk
Theaster Gates and Hamza Walker (Director Laxart, Los Angeles), introduction by Anna Schneider (Curator Haus der Kunst)
Saturday, October 26, 7:30 pm
Theaster Gates and the Black Monks: The Church of Funk
With Theaster Gates, Mikel Avery, Yaw Agyeman, Michael Drayton, Ben Lamar Gay and Jeffrey Harris
“Come shout with us and shake your funky ass” (Theaster Gates)
Theaster Gates is the founder and singer of the legendary ensemble Black Monks (formerly Black Monks of Mississippi). The musical roots of the group lie in the so-called “Music of the South”: the blues, funk and gospel music, but also pick up on ascetic practices of Eastern monastic tradition. The voices and sounds experimentally highlight the peculiarities of “Black Sounds” and evoke longing, joy, pain and ecstasy.