Toronto

Theaster Gates, House Heads Liberation Training (work in progress), 2016, digital video, color, sound, running time TBD.

Theaster Gates, House Heads Liberation Training (work in progress), 2016, digital video, color, sound, running time TBD.

Toronto

“Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum”

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West
July 21–October 30, 2016

Curated by Kitty Scott

Six sprawling symbolic “houses” inspired by those of black gay ball culture, including one dedicated to house music legend Frankie Knuckles and one to Muddy Waters; reprinted archival materials from the 1900 Paris Expo’s “Exhibit of American Negroes” in a two-step with correspondence from contemporary figures of note; new works from the artist himself, including a DJ booth, a shrine, and the video House Heads Liberation Training, 2016. With all of the above, Gates heads northeast from his home base on Chicago’s South Side to mount a show that extends his investigations into the ways in which black creativity might occupy physical and institutional space. Spanning an entire floor of the AGO, the installation updates the Paris Expo’s rigid proofs of African American humanity—black-crafted patents, black-authored books, dignified portraiture of and by black figures—using more kinetic and acoustic evidence. Its riskier enterprise, though, beyond contemporizing a bygone world’s fair, may be its attempt to gauge the distance between free black asses and minds, working from Gates’s Chicago musical icons to larger, enduring issues of self-determination and survival.