Upon entering the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Kovler Atrium, audiences will find rows of pews from University of Chicago’s Bond Chapel. The pews were removed in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray. Above the pews hangs a large-scale double-cross sculpture filled with household items such as umbrellas, dented cans for non-perishables, and wine glasses.
The installation will be activated with performances throughout the summer by artist Theaster Gates. The installation is titled 13th Ballad and intertwines concepts and theories, a familiar practice for the Gates. Here we see the relationship between religion, migration and accumulation. Gates’ work intervenes and it is this intervention that serves not as another example of gentrification, but of the possibilities of art in the face of despair.
Gates is a multidisciplinary artist, working with performance, sculpture, installation, and large-scale urban interventions. He received a degree in urban planning, but also studied ceramic. This combination of fields informs the multifaceted approach to his artistic practices.