Theaster Gates at Prada Rong Zhai

“China Cabinet” an exhibition of works by Theaster Gates is running at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai until 23rd May 2021. The project, presented by Prada with the support of the Fondazione Prada features Gates’ ceramics and explores Gates’ multifaceted career as a visual artist, urban planner, performer and activist.

Theaster Gates lives and works in Chicago, US. He creates work which focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind. Known for his recirculation of art-world capital, Gates creates work that focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist.

For “China Cabinet”, Gates conceived a three-chapter narrative that creatively unfolds in the rooms of the Prada building’s first floor. As the story unfolds through the artistic presentation which mixes Gates’ disciplines, the setting changes, pivoting the artist’s purpose from guest to participant. From being the object of an exhibition which examines the core of his creative process, Gates becomes a subject examining the economic potential and the production of his work.

Image: Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai. Theaster Gates, “China Cabinet”. Exhibition view. Photo: Alessandro Wang