Theaster Gates and Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.]

On June 16 and 17, 2019, Lunder Institute Distinguished Visiting Artist Theaster Gates convened a group of scholars and musicians in Washington, DC, for an open workshop, Discussions of the Sonic Imagination. 

“Sonic Imagination: the capacity to dream, feel, motivate and activate through sound; to think through and love through sound; to incant, incite or invoke using the invisible energy of wind and body to materialize form that moves us. This capacity to deeply consider a sonic measure that heals, disrupts, enables and unifies is a powerful wielding,” Gates said. “Our hope is to offer conversations and performances infused with sonic complexity and musical ambition that provoke and shine a light on the tremendous dexterity of contemporary art and musical practices.”

Organized by the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in partnership with the Lunder Institute, Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, and the Park Avenue Armory, the two-day program was the culminating moment in Processions, a series that began as a Hirshhorn commission in 2016, and has featured throughout a diverse group of local and national performers, artists, and scholars introducing unexpected connections between African and African American culture and history, theater, music, dance, chant, and oratory. 

Discussions of the Sonic Imagination was also a prelude to Gates’s Black Artists Retreat at the Park Avenue Armory on October 11 and 12, 2019. Public events in New York City will include lectures, roller skating, DJs and performances. Information on the weekend, including ticket sales, can be found on the Armory’s website.



Image: Terry Adkins, Native Son (Circus), © The Estate of Terry Adkins / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy of The Estate of Terry Adkins, Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein