Artists News

Watch a Short Film About Theaster Gates and His Curious Collections of Forsaken Things

Theaster Gates among his 12,000 copies of Jet magazine.


The latest offering in ART21’s “Summer of Shorts,” a series of online films about an intriguing array of artists from all over, features Theaster Gates among his many mind-boggling collections in Chicago. You can watch it early by way of ARTnews below, before it goes out to the rest of the world later today.

In a dense and informative five minutes, Gates holds forth while giving a tour through some of his accumulated collections, including the remains of an architectural-history bookstore, musical platters from a record shop known as Dr. Wax, glass slides from the University of Chicago, and 12,000 back issues of Jet magazine that Gates himself bound in color-coded volumes.

“I spend a lot of time looking for the personality of people within their collections,” Gates says into the camera, “and then maybe even trying to tease out why those things are important.” Later, he considers such collections “a way of tracking black space—black not necessarily just about black people,” he says, “but about forgotten people.”

Watch the full short film embedded below, and find the lineup for rest of the 10-part series—including forthcoming films on Stan Douglas, Aki Sasamoto, Chris Ware, and more—at the ART21 website.


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