Theaster Gates was the 2012 commissioned artist for The Armory Show in New York City. His minimal aesthetic and nuanced cultural references inspired the visual identity of the fair, including the design of the 2012 catalogue, Armory Circle VIP brochure and all other printed materials. Especially emphasized was his conceptual drive of activating the past through archives, objects and performances to create a poetic and conscious understanding of cultural moments and spaces today.
Throughout the fair Gates performed "SEE, SIT, SUP, SIP, SING: Holding Court" at the booth of Chicago and Berlin gallery Kavi Gupta and in the café on Pier 94. From a table built with the unclaimed desks of an old elementary school on Chicagos south-side named after the Afro-Indian Revolutionary martyr Crispus Attucks, Gates "held court": had meetings, convened conversations, shared space and made time.
Gates said, If the belly of whales and fiery furnaces can render men or women unscathed, then surely, I can have a few conversations from within the beast. I want to make space for my friends and ensure that some new friends meet old ones. Holding court seems the best way to do this and a much better use of my time than the winter sale at Barneys.Holding Court
has since been exhibited in Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, the first comprehensive survey of performance art by black visual artists.
More information on Radical Presence can be found on these websites for the: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
and Studio Museum in Harlem
Photo: Courtesy of Kavi Gupta Gallery