Prada Rong Zhai Shanghai China Cabinet | mostra | Theaster Gates

Prada Rong Zhai Shanghai China Cabinet is the artist’s exhibition project Theaster Gates, with the support of the Prada Foundation. The exhibition will run until May 23, 2021 in Prada Rong Zhai, the historic Shanghai residence built in 1918, restored by Prada and reopened in October 2017.

Invited to rethink the spaces of Prada Rong Zhai through an unprecedented perspective, Theaster Gates exhibits his ceramic works and reveals the connections that exist between his activity as a potter and that of visual artist, performer, professor, urban planner and social activist. For “China Cabinet” Gates created a story in three chapters that winds through the rooms on the first floor of the building.

In the course of the narration, the installation takes on different configurations and the role of the artist undergoes an evolution: from guest, to ghost, to homeowner. From the subject of an exhibition that examines the roots of his creative process, the artist becomes the subject who reveals the economic potential and the productive context of his own work, to the point of assuming the role of the new possible owner of Prada Rong Zhai.

In first chapter the artist, as a guest, presents the themes underlying his research in six showcases. Inside, visitors can trace the typical elements of his artistic practice: the reuse of materials and techniques of architectural construction, the references to craftsmanship and spirituality, the use of a stereotyped imagery associated with the African American community, the use of symbols from the civil rights movements and the presence of archival material such as magazines, books, musical and film supports that make up the universe of Gates.

The showcases they have a dual nature: personal and collective. Inside, the ceramics are displayed as if they were still in his home-studio. At Prada Rong Zhai the objects are set up as motionless presences waiting to become the central figures of a new narrative.

The second phase of the exhibition refers to the role of the artist as an interlocutor. Gates reveals the complexity of his relationship with ceramics, characterized by both intellectual and material aspects, in one site-specific installation divided into two sections.

The first is a precise and clear presentation of his works distributed throughout the space as if they were inside an antique Chinese porcelain shop. The second part is a reconstruction of his workshop that includes numerous plates, glasses, bowls, vases and other functional ceramic objects, along with works of art made using similar techniques.

The narration ends with the complete occupation of Prada Rong Zhai by the artist who exhibits his works as if they were inside a private home. At the end of the journey the artist transforms himself from a visitor to a generous homeowner, eager to share the comfort and beauty of his lovingly furnished residence with his guests.

credit image by Press Office – photo by Alessandro Wang

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