The latest installation of Theaster Gates “Amalgam” opens at Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
“ Being “sensible” means changing on contact with others"
Review by Zoltan Alexander
"Amalgam" by Theaster Gates at Palais de Tokyo / © video by Zoltan Alexander ZOLTAN+MEDIA
The new season at Palais de Tokyo “Sensible” opened with uncertain motions. Being “sensible” means changing on contact with others, putting into relation the world’s imaginaries, while producing the unforeseen futures of our mingled destinies. It is with just such unstable matter that the artists presented in this season work; Theaster Gates, Angelica Mesiti, Julien Creuzet, Louis-Cyprien Rials, Julius von Bismarck and Franck Scurti, paying particular attention to movements: in social history, migrations, cultural heritages.
In an astonishingly short space of time, Theaster Gates has incubated compelling new models for legacy building, social transformation, and making art. Gates is an American social practice installation artist whose work includes sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions that aim to bridge the gap between art and life. He works as an artist, curator, urbanist and facilitator and his projects attempt to instigate the creation of cultural communities, creating hubs and archives for black culture by acting as catalysts for social engagement that leads to political and spatial change.
Encompassing sculpture, painting, installation, video, performance, and music that aim to bridge the gap between art and life, his installations and sculptures mostly incorporate found materials, often from the neighbourhoods where he is engaged and has historical and iconic significance. Other sculptures derive from the stage set for performances. Made from recycled planks of wood, these over-sized, throne-like chairs emphasise the role of server and served and appear as both scaffold and monument.
For his first solo museum exhibition in France, Gates has initiated an entirely new project that explores social histories of migration and interracial relations using a specific episode in American history as his point of departure to address larger questions of black subjugation and the imperial sexual domination and racial mixing that resulted from it.
The starting point of the exhibition, entitled “Amalgam” - in technical terms used in the past to denote racial, ethnic and religious mingling - is the story of Malaga Island in the state of Maine, USA. In 1912, the state governor expelled from Malaga the poorest population, an interracial, mixed community considered “indolent” by many of the local white inhabitants. These unfortunate people were forced to relocate throughout the mainland; some were even involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions.
For Gates, it has acquired an even more charged significance, impelling his practice towards new formal and conceptual explorations in sculpture, architecture, and music.
Currently, he is Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art, Maine, USA.
Installation of "Amalgam" by Theaster Gates at Palais de Tokyo
/ Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA
ARTLYST © 2019
THEASTER GATES "Amalgam"
Palais de Tokyo 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France
/ 20 February 2019 - 12 May 2019 / Tickets: 12 euros