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Exhibition

Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith

October 17, 2020–July 18, 2021

Floor 7

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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Smith’s Sojourner (2018) culminates with a feminist reimagining of an unpublished photograph from a 1966 Life assignment.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.

Future Histories uses a waiting list to manage capacity. Sign up at the exhibition for a time slot, and you will be notified when it’s your turn. Due to limited space, admission is not guaranteed. Thank you for your understanding.


Exhibition Preview

Cauleen Smith, Sojourner, 2018 (still); collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Cauleen Smith; photo: courtesy the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago
Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (still); collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Theaster Gates; photo: courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (installation view); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; ©️ Theaster Gates; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Cauleen Smith, Lessons in Semaphore, 2016, Black Utopia LP: a cauleen smith movie—Rehearsal Tapes & Lectures Selected From The Alton Abraham/Sun Ra Audio Archives (Fan edition), 2012, BLK FMNNST Loaner Library 1989–2019 video bibliography, 2019 (installation view); ©️ Cauleen Smith, photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Theaster Gates, Store Fixture for Two Madonnas, 2019 (installation view); steel, printed fabric, and 1970s ascot pattern made from the artist’s clothing; © Theaster Gates; photo: Katherine Du Tiel


Watch

Cauleen Smith imagines a Black, feminist utopia

Is utopia attainable? Artist Cauleen Smith discusses her film Sojourner (2018), which explores what a feminist, Afrofuturist, and radically generous community might look like. She describes the film’s genesis and her inspiration from artists and activists including Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, Noah Purifoy, and the Combahee River Collective.


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 the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago