Theaster Gates Brings ‘Black Ecstacy’ to the Hirshhorn This Fall

He'll be teaming up with the Black Monks of Mississippi.

Theaster Gates. Courtesy of Getty Images.
Theaster Gates. Courtesy of Getty Images.

It’s hard to keep track of Theaster Gates. There’s his big exhibition over at the Fondazione Prada in Milan; a group show alongside Leonardo da Vinci at the Turner; exhibitions in Beirut, Kentucky, and Ontario—and these barely scratch the surface of what he’s been doing these days.

Now, Gates is curating a performance piece heading to the Hirshhorn Museum (where, might we mention, he is a member of the board). The series is called “Processions,” and according to press materials, the first of the four-part series is happening on September 21, just three days before the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Few details have been divulged surrounding the first and subsequent processions, however. “It’s still all up in the air,” the representative told artnet News. But here’s what we do know: Student athletes from Howard University (a historically black college in Washington DC) will be “weav[ing] through the museum” with the Black Monks of Mississippi, a group of experimental musicians that Gates collaborated with in 2008. In a statement, Gates described the inaugural performance as “reimagin[ing] the Hirshhorn as a site for black ecstasy.”

Gates has amassed an enormous amount of attention this year, the most notable of which is signing on with Los Angeles-based gallery Regen Projects in April. Last November, Gates told artnet News’s Amah-Rose Abrams that “[t]here’s been a lot of recent output, and I think it’s a good time for me to start quietly reflecting on all the things I’ve been doing.” But with his newest venture on September 21, Gates doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.


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