Interactive performance space created by world-renowned artist Theaster Gates is on-air and spinning records beginning this Friday through fall
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Theaster Gates Studio, and Rebuild Foundation today announced the re-activation of AESOP (An Extended Song of Our People), the famed public art project and DJ booth designed by Gates and programmed by Rebuild Foundation at the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station.
AESOP is an interactive public art installation created by world renowned artist and Chicago-based social innovator Theaster Gates. AESOP is the first known artist-designed and constructed broadcast studio/disc jockey (DJ) booth in a transit facility. Now in its third year of operation, DJ Ayana Contreras will serve as the guest host of the DJ booth, which will offer live programming on Mondays (7-10 a.m.) and Fridays (3-6 p.m.) through the end of October 2022, with the exception of the following public holidays: Monday, July 4 (Independence Day) and Monday, September 5 (Labor Day).
AESOP provides South Side commuters with a public cultural amenity that celebrates shared history, showcases local talent, and centers the voices and stories of Black and Brown people. The DJ Booth, a custom desk from the Johnson Publishing Company headquarters designed by Arthur Elrod, pays homage to Chicago’s rich cultural history and legacy of Black excellence. The walls in the installation are comprised of slate elements that were salvaged from the former St. Laurence Church, a site that is frequently memorialized in Theaster’s artistic practice materially and thematically, prior to its demolition in 2014.
The DJ Booth and associated live music programing is presented by Rebuild Foundation, Gates’ non-profit platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation on the South Side. This programming is broadcast over the 95th/Dan Ryan station’s public address (PA) system and via speakers in the DJ booth.
Theaster Gates, a Chicago native, is an internationally acclaimed artist, and Professor at the University of Chicago. The artwork commissioned for the 95th Street station serves as a valuable centerpiece of the CTA’s transit art collection, and aligns with the agency’s goal to commission original works of art to improve the transit experience for all customers and to foster community pride in the neighborhoods it serves. Over the last decade, the CTA’s public art collection has nearly doubled to include more than 70 permanent works of art across all eight rail lines and multiple bus facilities. This dynamic and immersive collection of public art includes mosaics, art glass, sculptures and interactive installations created by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, many of whom are local.
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About Rebuild Foundation
Founded by artist Theaster Gates in 2010, Rebuild Foundation is a platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation. Rebuild strengthens creative communities through grants, classes, residencies, access to our collections and free public programs. The Foundation is well known for innovative, ambitious, and impactful arts and cultural initiatives, hosting projects and programs that amplify the history, value, and promise of Black creativity at local, national, and international scales. Rebuild operates a constellation of sites on the South Side of Chicago including the Stony Island Arts Bank, Retreat at the Currency Exchange Café, Dorchester Art Housing Collaborative, Kenwood Gardens, and the forthcoming arts incubator at the former St. Laurence Elementary School. To learn more about Rebuild Foundation, please visit: https://www.rebuild-foundation.org/
About Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates lives and works in Chicago. Gates creates work that focuses on 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 creates work that focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” Gates smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist. Gates has exhibited and performed at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2019–20);, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2021–22); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2021–22), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2019); Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany (2018); Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2018); National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA (2017); Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2016); Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2016); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2013) and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012). He was the winner of the Artes Mundi 6 prize and was a recipient of the Légion d'Honneur in 2017. He was awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture 2018, as well as the Urban Land Institute, J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and the College.