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

    “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.

  • Franz Erhard Walther, 55 Handlungsbahnen (55 Action Paths), 1997–2003, sewn canvas. Installation view, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva, 2010. Photo: Ilmari Kalkkinen.

    “Call to Action: Franz Erhard Walther”

    The Power Plant
    231 Queens Quay West
    July 25–September 5, 2016

    Curated by Gaëtane Verna

    Despite Walther’s studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the early 1960s, a hotbed of European artistic talent that bred classmates such as Gerhard Richter; despite his subsequent four-year immersion in New York City, similar to stays that propelled fellow Germans such as Hanne Darboven to statewide institutional recognition; and despite his participation in seminal shows, including the Museum of Modern Art’s “Spaces” in 1969 and Harald Szeemann’s Documenta 5 in 1972, North America has still been slow to recognize Walther’s significance for the expansion of painting, for the convergence of art and design, and for time-, performance-, and (especially) participation-based art. This survey—which follows Walther’s presentation at Dia:Beacon six years ago and will include historic video documentation of the activation of his sculptures—may prove a game changer, at last.