• Twelve Ballads for Huguenot House
    Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, 2012. Deconstructed timbers and other construction materials from 6901 South Dorchester, Chicago. Commissioned by dOCUMENTA (13) in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago with support from Phillip Keir and Sarah Benjamin, London; Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo: Nils Klinger. Courtesy the artist; Kavi Gupta, Chicago; White Cube, London.

Twelve Ballads for Huguenot House, a project for dOCUMENTA (13), explores the relationship between social enterprise, contemporary art practices, and cultural redevelopment. In collaboration with a team of workers-in-training from Chicago and from Kassel, Germany, Theaster Gates restores and reactivates the Huguenot House, a historically significant hotel in Kassel. Gates worked with a team of laborers--the Rebuild Foundation, led by John Preus--to assist him in dismantling the interior of an existing Chicago building, and then used those salvaged materials and a newly trained labor team to restore (or mend) the Huguenot House. Once the restoration is completed, the building will be turned into a meeting place and location of varied performative and social events. The Black Monks of Mississippi, an ensemble of Chicago-based musicians that Gates has worked with for many years, gave multiple performances throughout the days and the evenings of the opening week of dOCUMENTA (13). This project will also serve as the foundation for a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Theaster Gates's practice covers a range of disciplines including performance, installation, urban planning, and design. For the past several years, he has attempted to make bodies of work that move between formal and informal institutions, leveraging the resources of a major institution or city to do more significant cultural work in unexpected, less likely-to-be-funded places. He hopes to assist in the development of models which would empower artists and designers to develop new cultural spaces and engagement strategies.