Theaster Gates’ installation at Haus der Kunst is part of a multi-faceted project dedicated to the comprehensive photographic Johnson Publishing archives. Theaster Gates connects the photographs to the cult of the Black Madonna both in terms of their spiritual significance within the history of religion, as well as in terms of their aesthetic and imaginary.
For this installation, Gates has conceived a series of new sculptures that intervene directly into the architecture of the Middle Hall. Tar functions as the core element within these sculptures, allowing the artist to probe the complex meanings of the material; ranging from references to his personal biography, to more universal associations concerning its power of transformation. These new sculptural additions will operate in tandem with scroll-screens displaying images from the Johnson Publishing archives. The photographs were first published in the magazines ‘Ebony’ and ‘Jet’, two iconic publications within the dissemination of black culture in the United States. The interplay of sculpture and photography results in a space in which questions of black history, identity and representation are addressed.
Drawing from a vast multiform practice that encompasses sculpture, installation, performance, improvisation, musical composition, and urban intervention, Gates’ transformation of space into a place of social interaction and encounter serves as a bridge between art and life; drawing in and providing a platform for the multivalent subjectivities that constitute a site’s varied demographics. On the occasion of the exhibition Haus der Kunst is publishing a catalog.
Curated by Anna Schneider; the presentation in the Archive Gallery is developed together with Sabine Brantl