The Armory Show is proud to announce that artist and urban planner Theaster Gates has been chosen as the 2012 commissioned artist for the fair. Gates work, a provocative yet poetic re-purposing of historical ephemera, will be used to create the visual identity of The Armory Show 2012.
Socially relevant and visually arresting, Gates projects, performances and artworks narrate a political history. In the artists own words, I offer the materials of the Black South Side or the forgotten city as an Epitaph for Civil Rights, in hopes of a historical and political redemption; redemption, even for me."
Couched in historical narratives that directly reference a black political engagement, Gates employs decommissioned and re-purposed materials, such as fire hoses used in the 1963 hazing of civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, to wood sourced from abandoned homes in Chicagos predominantly black South Side. Gates oeuvre, including his sculptures and wall pieces, all reflect back upon a moment of political imagination, where the archive of the past is as important as the contemporary re-telling of it.
For the Artist Commission, The Armory Show will embrace the aesthetic of Gates work and incorporate it into the design of the 2012 catalogue, Armory Circle VIP brochure and all other printed materials related to the 2012 edition of the fair. The artist will also produce a limited edition multiple available in March at The Armory Show.
It is an honor to have an artist whose work incorporates a broad spectrum of cultural archives as a medium to critically engage with the past. Theasters work, and his dedication to the history and archive of Chicago, will bring a new voice to the tradition of the artist commission at The Armory Show" noted Paul Morris, Vice President, Art Shows and Events, MMPI and Co-Founder of The Armory Show.
Katelijne De Backer, Executive Director of The Armory Show, noted, Theasters work is often called transformative, and we are flattered that he is lending his bold, energetic commentary to The Armory Show. It is a priority for us to keep the artist ever at the forefront. Theaster has a mastery of performance, installation, visual arts and urban transformation. We are eager to bring this provocative force in todays art world to The Armory Show collectors and visitors."
Theaster Gates (b. 1973) has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. He is represented by Kavi Gupta in Chicago and Berlin. Solo exhibitions include the forthcoming Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); Theaster Gates at the Seattle Art Museum (2011); To Speculate Darkly: Theaster Gates and Dave, the Slave Potter at the Milwaukee Art Museum (2010) and Temple Exercises at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2010). Group exhibitions include 40 Under 40, Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (2012); Feast: Radical Hospitality and Contemporary Art, Smart Museum of Art, Washington D.C. (2012); Grains of Emptiness: Buddhism Inspired Contemporary Art, Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2010) and the Whitney Biennial 2010, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010). Currently Gates is a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University, and he divides his time between Cambridge and Chicago, where he resides.