Theaster Gates: Temple Exercises


Theaster Gates’s Temple Exercises is a series of exercises that occur both at the MCA and around the city. Exploring the relationships among art, politics, and race, Theaster Gates constructs a temple-like structure that merges aspects of African-American and Japanese traditions. Gates’s construction also serves as a contemplative space meant to inspire dialogue across philosophical and cultural boundaries on topics ranging from politics and religion to culture, food, and art as well as a performative space for the Black Monks of Mississippi, a group of Baptist-Buddhist musicians who mix slave spirituals, monastic chants, and jazz to create a singular sonorous experience.

The exhibition is curated by Tricia Van Eck, Curatorial Coordinator and Curator of Artists’ Books, with the participation of MCA’s education and marketing departments.


Gates enacts several performances in the Tribune Orientation gallery during the month of January. Led by the Black Monks, the performances call attention to the deep relationships between religious and cultural phenomena. Performances are free.

  • Tuesday, January 6, 6–7 pm
  • Tuesday, January 13, begins at 5:30 pm in the Tribune Orientation Gallery and then moves to Kanter at 6 pm for Global Neighborhoods: Rick Lowe and Kyong Park in Conversation
  • Tuesday, January 20, 6–7 pm

Related Events

“Shine” at Shine King
Sunday, January 25, 10 am–noon
338 North Central Avenue, 773.378.9734

Theaster Gates invites you to get your shoes shined with him for $5. He regularly visits the shoe shine establishment and seeks to create a community experience through the ritualistic activity.

Shout at Sonotheque
Monday, January 26, 8 pm–2 am
1444 West Chicago Avenue, 312.226.7600
$5 admission

Chicago’s DJ Madrid, Eric Williams, Sadie Woods, and Sean Alvarez fuse global sounds with music inspired by the Black Church at the music listening and dance party. Must be 21 or older with a valid ID to attend this event.


Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Lois and Steve Eisen Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

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