Spotlight: Theaster Gates’ new Chicago facility brings old hardware store back to life
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What would you like to know: In “How to sell material? “ The doors of the theater third solo exhibition with Gray Gallery, the artist continues his engagement with a True Value family hardware store located in South Chicago. During the 1970s and 1980s the store was part of a thriving local community, but in the 1990s its fate followed that of the general community downturn. Gates acquired the store and all of its merchandise in 2014. ”How to Sell Hardware ”creates an immersive environment that follows the history of this urban space.
Why we love it: Gates locked the store’s remaining physical inventory in dozens of stacked metal containers. The monumental construction cuts the gallery in two. The installation makes a nod to the history of modern architecture while also alluding to how these utilitarian objects relate to everyday workers and remain a sort of oblique portrait even after the objects themselves are become obsolete. “This exhibition examines my insistence that the world is not separated between tall objects and low objects, but rather that the artist has the ability to determine the designation of each,” said Gates. “Can a hardware store be considered an important work as a hardware store or only after transformation, reform, dislocation or intervention?” Aren’t all works of art just a series of assembled objects made from things you find in a corner store? “
What the gallery says: “The artist’s activation of disused materials in How to Sell Material is a testament to the long-standing application of archives to her artistic practice. Gates first used hardware as a material and conceptual medium in his exhibition “True Value”, which debuted at Fondazione Prada in Milan in 2016. Along with his work in ceramics, painting, sculpture, installation, music and performance, Gates’ work with archives, which includes the preservation of Jet and Ebony magazines, as well as the salvage of many buildings on the south side of Chicago, draw on various sources and narratives and invoke thoughtful examination of the often overlooked or distorted black cultural and social histories.
See the “How to Sell Gear” images below.
“Theaster Gates: How to Sell Gear” is on view at Gray Warehouse, Chicago, until July 31, 2021.
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