11th October 2020

Out to see the Theaster Gates exhibition as part of London Frieze. On a dull October day it was pleasant to be heading off to The Whitecube, Bermondsey for a change. I have looked at Gate’s work online and I’m looking forward to this.

Initially when we get to the Whitecube we find a pavilion outside, which is confusing. Then I remember that there is another exhibition on, Danh Vo on. I have mentioned this in the seminar writing.

Theaster Gates is hidden from the public, and initially we missed it. After going round the Danh Vo and being mesmerised, we ask a staff member and are admitted to the back storage vaults to the small room with the Gates show.

A small room with three walls with books, and a small rug with three ceramic pots standing on it.

I’m puzzled at how small the show is, as my reading suggested he works in a larger way. However I knew that he trained as a potter so the pots are not such a surprise. Nor the body figure in the corner which is made of brick dirt and fashioned in the manner of an early civilisation female.

But the books are beguiling and as I examine them I realise they are works of text, each spine having a few words that read together. They are apparently old books that have been rebound in new leather.

These works seek to describe black culture as seen through the lens of white consciousness of ‘Negrobilia” collector Edward J. WIlliams.

The books are lined up on two walls. On the third they are creating a pattern.

They have the word JET printed on them, I’m not sure if this is a word or if it is an acronym.

The colours of the book bindings are repeated in the rug. Are these important?

The works are considered and curated to say something, but I don’t have the history to know what that is.

I am beguiled by the work though, and happy to have visited today.

I will carry this with me.