Theaster Gates

THEASTER GATES IS SWOOPING AROUND AND through the audience like a low-flying eagle circling a lake. It’s dark, but a band is playing Grace Jones covers, he’s a very good roller-skater, and he trusts the smoothness of the floor he installed. Occasionally he straightens a bit and shouts, “This is not a conference!” and sometimes “This is not a f-cking conference!” It’s the first night of Gates’ fifth Black Artists Retreat, a weekend of discussions, performances and films dedicated this year to exploring “Sonic Imagination.” But occasionally, because of the speakers and presentations, it verges on feeling like a conference. Hence the roller skates.

Gates is a potter-sculptor, who is also an urban planner, who is also an archivist, who is also a factory owner, who is also a bandleader, who is also

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