VIDEO: Theaster Gates on Inserting an Inner-City Schoolroom Into the Armory Show's "Magical" Atmosphere

Theaster Gates
(Photo © Tom Chen)

"Artists should never be at an art fair," legendary painter Chuck Close told ARTINFO earlier this week as the 2012 Armory Show opened. Theaster Gates disagrees. "Fairs are about money because that's what we make fairs about," he says. A rising star, Gates is known for works that spin jagged aesthetic poetry out of community-based organizing, particularly with reference to African-American history. As the official artist of the show, Gates created a sold-out edition of "Civil Rights Throw Rugs," but also assembled together a deliberately incongruous discussion lounge, made out of furniture salvaged from a school on Chicago's South Side and installed just outside of the stand of his dealer Kavi Gupta.

He graciously agreed to speak on camera about his inspirations for the project, and how he hoped to use the fair as an "accomplice" in his larger artistic mission.