Courtesy of author.

Whoa de Whoa: The Gray Center’s “Another Idea” Comes To A Close

By Jad Dahshan
In Practice: The UChicago Arts Blog
August 26, 2020


“I'm a potter in the morning, a painter in the noon, I’m a bureaucrat in the night time, and I am a lover when the moon is bright, whoa de whoa de whoa.”

On July 31, interdisciplinary sculptor and DoVA Professor Theaster Gates delivered a performance that marked the conclusion of the Gray Center’s online exhibition, Another Idea, as well as their Gray Sound Sessions series. Titled Whoa de Whoa, the hour-long program was broadcast on YouTube and paired organist Chris Foreman with a vehement vocal performance by Gates, who molded clay, drummed, and smoked as he sang.

Whoa de Whoa came at the end of an exhibition that interrogated questions relating to conceptual art, sociality, tactility, social media, capitalism, racial inequities in the art world, homelessness, and many others. Like some other performances in the show, Gates’ took on several of these concerns. His meditation on the difference between the ways Black and white people are prosecuted for marijuana possession, for one, echoes Chelsea A. Flowers’ performance, Chelsea’s Trivia Night. During the monologue at the very end of his performance, he occupies a similar speculative space which fellow exhibition artists Cauleen Smith (COVID Manifesto) and Kyle Bellucci Johanson (chance encounters for a third try: attempting a house party on the moon) also sought to create in their work: Gates imagines aloud an art historical training program for the frontline security staff at museums, who do not enjoy the same privileges as curators. Led by a Black woman, they would be called “securators!”

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