Theaster Gates turns the Walker Art Centre’s galleries into a gesamtkunstwerk

Exploring memory and African American culture

Artist Theaster Gates has reimagined the headquarters of the Johnson Publishing Company for his immersive exhibition, Assembly Hall at Minneapolis’s Walker Arts Centre.

The solo show brings together objects from Gates’ four major acquired collections, including the 15,000-piece Johnson assemblage; the Ana J and Edward J Williams Collection of ‘negrobilia’; the University of Chicago’s western-centric former collection of 60,000 glass lantern slides; periodicals, records and furniture.

These objects – usually shown in the buildings Gates has resurrected as community spaces in Chicago’s South Side or repurposed for new artworks – have been arranged across four ‘rooms’, questioning what role they play in memory, history and constructed narratives.

Says Gates: ‘How do we deal with abandonment, ruin, decay? How do we start to imagine ourselves as deeper caretakers of the things that exist in the world?’

Theaster Gates turns the Walker Art Centre's galleries into an immersive gesamtkunstwerk
View of the exhibition Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, 2019. Photo: Bobby Rogers, Walker Art Center
Theaster Gates turns the Walker Art Centre's galleries into an immersive gesamtkunstwerk
View of the exhibition Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, 2019. Photo: Bobby Rogers, Walker Art Center

See more on Theaster Gates and his social practice interventions

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