Theaster Gates Monument installed at Drexel University in Philly

Theaster Gates Monument in Waiting, 2020, presented by Philadelphia Contemporary, and with the support of the Forman Arts Initiative and Drexel University, was unveiled in early July 2022. The artwork has been installed on Drexel University’s campus in University City; Gates’s public sculpture is a contemporary ruin that deconstructs the concept of the monument, particularly those that reinforce systems of subjugation.

“My monument work, from Black Chapel at Serpentine to the Stony Island Arts Bank and this non-monument in Philadelphia, has me grappling with the best indicators of temporal markers,” Theaster Gates remarked. “Monuments spatially and symbolically mark time and help us conjure meaning. Honoring the truths of a people or a moment is necessary soul work for the nation. I’m glad to be part of that.”

Comprised of reclaimed stone plinths and granite tiles devoid of a figure, Theaster Gates Monument in Waiting evokes a dismantled public forum. The work responds to ongoing dialogue about preservation and erasure, collective memory and public scrutiny of historical figures and monuments, particularly those that reinforce systems of oppression. This tribute, like much of Gates’s work, asks viewers to reconsider the ways in which monuments are destroyed, preserved or adapted to enshrine moments and figures in our history.

Created during the turbulent summer of 2020, Monument in Waiting was first exhibited at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York and will be installed on Drexel University’s campus through Spring 2023.

Theaster Gates, Monument in Waiting detail, 2020.
Theaster Gates, Monument in Waiting detail, 2020.

About the Artist

Theaster Gates (b.1973) currently lives and works in Chicago. Gates creates works that engage with space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind. Known for his recirculation of art world capital, Gates’s practice focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” His work contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist.

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