Taking archival photography from lifestyle magazines as a point of departure, the central video projections in this exhibition offer new perspectives on the past. Gates’s Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (2018) pays homage to the power of women by exploring the idea of the Black Madonna through reworking three decades of images drawn from the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company archives, including Ebony and Jet magazines. This two-channel installation interweaves scenes of musicians and singers.
Smith’s Sojourner (2018) culminates with a feminist reimagining of an unpublished photograph from a 1966 Life assignment. Throughout the work, women performers take banners sewn with phrases by jazz musician Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda to different sites associated with community and spiritual or artistic vision. These and other works and publications on view synthesize the interdisciplinary artists’ respective approaches to site-based research and collaborative performance to activate and transform spaces.
Meaningful support for Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith is provided by Wayee Chu and Ethan Beard.
Header Image: Cauleen Smith, Sojourner, 2018 (still); collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Cauleen Smith; photo: courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago and Kate Werble Gallery, New York