‘Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces’ to Open at New Museum




Opening November 10, 2022, the New Museum will present the first American museum survey exhibition devoted to Theaster Gates, encompassing the full range of the artist’s practice across a variety of media creating communal spaces for preservation, remembrance, and exchange. This landmark exhibition will be accompanied by a presentation of newly commissioned works by Vivian CaccuriandMiles Greenberg exploring the relationship between bodies and sound waves.

Taking place across three floors of the museum, this exhibition will encapsulate the full range of Theaster Gates’s artistic activities, featuring artworks produced over the past twenty years and site-specific environments created especially for this presentation. Gates has titled the exhibition “Young Lords and Their Traces” in honor of the radical thinkers who have shaped his home city of Chicago and America as a whole. For Gates, collective forms of knowledge are built across objects, images, sounds, movements, and most importantly, through the relationships between people. This survey exhibition will comprise a choreography of works including paintings, sculptures, videos, performances, and archival collections that work together to memorialize both heroic figures and more humble, everyday icons. Gates’s elevation of these quieter sources of knowledge, and his assertion that collecting and archiving are forms not only of preservation but also of devotion and remembrance, have made his work reverberate both locally and internationally.

Gates emerged in the early 2000s with a sculptural practice characterized by its use of salvaged materials and deeply researched interdisciplinary histories—a mode of working that he maintains today. The elegiac formalism of Gates’s large-scale tar paintings, experimental clay vessels, and immersive architectural installations can be linked to both personal and collective narratives of labor and spirituality. Alongside his early sculptural production, Gates has undertaken an ambitious project to revitalize his neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago by transforming unused buildings into experimental spaces for the exploration of Black culture. In recent years, Gates has linked these activities by rescuing a variety of historical collections of images and objects in Chicago and creating architectural spaces and sculptural structures for their preservation and dissemination to wider audiences.

Through “Young Lords and Their Traces,” Gates will reimagine the function of a museum as a space for personal histories and spiritual convocations. As part of the expansive exhibition, one entire floor of the New Museum will be transformed into a kind of personal museum, gathering artworks, artifacts, and mementos connected to influential figures in Gates’s life and career who have passed away in recent years: curator Okwui Enwezor, writer bell hooks, and Gates’s own father, among others. While tinged with a sense of loss, Gates’s recent work creates a network of intellectual and aesthetic affinities across generations. The result is less a map of personal obsessions than an assembly of voices in which the viewer is invited to participate. Combining an intimate, poetic sensibility and a sense of civic commitment, Gates’s work reimagines art as a form of social sculpture that can open up new modes of collectivity and knowledge production even in the most surprising contemporary settings.

“Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces” is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Senior Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog co-published by the New Museum and Phaidon featuring new essays by Jessica Bell Brown, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Ryan Dohoney, Coco Fusco, and Dieter Roelstraete, and an interview between Theaster Gates and Massimiliano Gioni. The exhibition will be on view from November 10, 2022 to February 5, 2023. The New Museum is located at 235 Bowery, NYC.

About the artist ~ Theaster Gates (b. 1973 in Chicago, IL; lives and works in Chicago, IL) has presented work in museums and galleries around the world, recently including exhibitions at international institutions such as Whitechapel Gallery, London; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Fondazione Prada, Milan; and Kunstmuseum Basel, among many others. His work has been included in prominent group exhibitions and biennials including “Grief and Grievance: Art & Mourning in America,” New Museum, New York (2021); “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and Sonic Impulse,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, and Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas (2021); Bamako Biennial, Bamako, Mali (2019); Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago (2019); 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Prospect 3, New Orleans (1024); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and many more. Gates has won numerous awards and honors including the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts (2021); the Kurt Schwitters Prize (2018); the Nasher Sculpture Prize (2018); Artes Mundi 6; and the New School Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics (2012).

Another exhibiting piece of art to look forward to from Theaster Gates ~ he has been commissioned by Studio Museum in Harlem to create a site-specific artwork to be installed in the lobby. Anticipated opening of the new Studio Museum in Harlem building will be in 2024.

While you’re there, don’t miss ‘Vivian Caccuri and Miles Greenberg: The Shadow of Spring’ on view in the New Museum Lobby Gallery from November 10th, 2022 to February 5, 2023.

Vivian Caccuri (b. 1986 in São Paulo, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) uses sound as the vehicle to experiment in sensory perception with issues related to history and social conditioning. Through objects, installations, and performances, her work creates situations that disorient everyday experience and, by extension, disrupt meanings and narratives seemingly as ingrained as the cognitive structure itself. Caccuri has developed projects in many cities in Brazil and abroad, including Accra, Detroit, Helsinki, Vienna, Venice, Kiev, Valparaíso, New Mexico, and South India, among others. Throughout her career she has collaborated with musicians, such as Arto Lindsay (USA/BR), Gilberto Gil (BR), Fausto Fawcett (BR), and Wanlov (Ghana), and recently released her first musical project (Homa). Her sound works and compositions have been broadcast on radio stations such as Resonance FM (London), Kunstradio (Vienna), and Rádio Mirabilis (Rio de Janeiro). At Princeton University, she wrote her first book, “Music is What I Make” (2012), published in Brazil and awarded the Funarte Prize of Critical Production in Music in 2013.

Miles Greenberg (b. 1997 in Montreal, Canada; lives and works in New York, NY, and Reykjavík, Iceland) is a performance artist and sculptor. His work consists of large-scale, sensorially immersive, and often site-specific environments revolving around the physical body in space. These installations are activated with often extreme durational performances that invoke the body as sculptural material. These performances are then captured in real time before the audience to generate later video works and sculptures. Rigorous and ritualistic in its methodology, Greenberg’s universe relies on slowness and the decay of form to heighten the audience’s sensitivities. The work follows self-contained, non-linear systems of logic that are best understood in relation to one another. At age seventeen, Greenberg left formal education, launching himself into four years of independent research on movement and architecture, which spanned a number of residencies in Paris, northern Italy, Beijing, and New York. He has worked under the mentorship of Édouard Lock, Robert Wilson, and Marina Abramović, and has since exhibited extensively internationally.

All photo credits: 1-“Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon,” 2021. Exhibition view: Whitechapel Gallery, London. Courtesy the artist and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo: Theo Christelis ~ 2—Left: Miles Greenberg, Late October, 2020 (detail). La Totale, Studio Orta-Les Moulins / Galeria Continua, Boissy-le-Châtel, France. Video still courtesy of the artist; Right: Vivian Caccuri, TabomBass, 2016-2019 (detail). Wood, speakers, candles, mic stands, mono audio. Photo: Luiza Sigulem ~ 3—Wangechi Mutu, In Two Canoe, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery. Photo: David Regen