“[The Black Monks of Mississippi] were kind of a conceptual instrument to talk about the influence of black music. Over the years, I no longer needed that as the conceptual focus, and then the Monks were free. We were able to then just make music, and we could be a platform that would give me an opportunity to make art in a way that was different from object-making: it could be speech acts, sermons, wailings, speaking in tongues, loose utterances. There was this whole vocabulary that I had from my youth that was no longer useful for me in the way that it had been, because I no longer went to church.”
– the 2017 IHME Artist Theaster Gates
At this spring’s Festival the IHME artist Theaster Gates looked back at the turning point that took place in his career around ten years ago. Museum Director Charles Esche, already Gates’s partner in conversation at that time, asked the artist to tell him how he discovered a way to expand his working process – a way that did not rely on producing objects for the art market.
The conversation between Gates and Esche delves into Trump-era America, compares black churches in the USA to English pubs as communal centres for social exchange, and calls into question the concept of the individual as a starting point for artistic activity – a starting point specifically for white American art.
The text of the Publication is based on the artist interview conducted at this April’s Festival. It is a longer version of the conversation than was included in the video recording released previously by IHME on YouTube.
Regain the Festival mood
As with previous years’ Publications, the latest IHME Publication also presents the key figures at this spring’s Festival and photos both of the events and of audience-work projects. You can also read more about the Festival productions, Festival feedback, or about how IHME does its audience research.