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THE SOURCE | Conversations with DOUG AITKEN [Theaster Gates]
[Alternate link for video: http://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000002652911/the-source-theaster-gates.html ]

Gates: "I have this great problem of space. When planners use words like blight and, uh, under-developed, it’s like actually what you’re talking about is available land. It’s just like no one’s really thought about it in those terms."

Aitken: "So tell us about this place that we’re in right now."

Gates: "We call this the archive house. It was just a shell of a building and I had 250, maybe 300 boxes of books in a basement. It really is an amalgam of labor over time that I think has made an amazing reading room."

Aitken: "And this kind of extends outside where I see a garden."

Gates: "I’m hoping that some of that willingness to grow things from very little will, will become hallmark to how we do things here on the block."

Aitken: "A lot of your palette and materials really is, you know, stuff that you find around you–these two by fours, this lumber, these bricks, it’s these, uh, trees have just been milled down into bark that you can put in your kiln."

Gates: "Yeah we talk about like how should these materials work? Like should we plane them, should we mill them? Should, should we sand them? And it’s not so much a story about like recycling this or that. But sometimes it’s just about what happens when you really care for the things that are in your life."

Aitken: "And when I see an exhibition of yours, you know, there’s a white wall, it’s a pristine space. It’s a gallery, it’s a museum. It’s very interesting to kind of see the isolation of the minimalism and like see this kind of like maximal landscape become very minimal."

Gates: "As artists, we’re always given the opportunity or we make the opportunity to say what a thing means. So let’s assume that the double cross in the atrium of the MCA is made from the same materials as this building right here. They function very differently in the world. Like say double cross will live in museums my–is my hope.

Gates: "At the same time, 6901, the building across the street where the guts of that building had in fact made double cross, that it gets to live here, a most excellent building that continues to function for our neighborhood. And I love that the same materials could do either work. It could either let you sit down and watch a good film or it, can help you imagine the sacredness."

Aitken: "So I, I want to come back to something else which I’m super curious about–performance."

Gates: "Yeah."

Aitken: "Yeah. Something's brewing inside."

Gates: "So the monks, which is a combination of great jazz musicians, some gospel players, some great classically trained and soul singers mashed up to, to reflect on the history of black music and to also slow that down so that instead of the whole song we would concentrate on a phrase and then in mantra style work it out."

Gates: "So if I’m thinking about clay and I’m making a pot but it–that’s one thing–but if I sang, I was born with clay in my veins, that turns into I was born with clay–you know, and it, and it’s like let’s just stay there. Let’s just stay there, let’s stay there all night, you know?

Gates: "And then I, I look at them, I’m not–I’m not an object. And they do something and it makes me do something else that makes them do something else. That’s a freaking good connection."
theastergates  dougaitken  2014  urbanism  urban  blight  development  space  cities  archives  art  glvo  houses  collections  reuse  recycling  caring  objects  materials  performance  music  jazz  via:soulellis  place  process  patterns  archivehouse 
january 2014 by robertogreco

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