In 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, Theaster Gates chronicles his ambitious project to unite two disused buildings--one in Chicago and one in Kassel, Germany--by using parts of each to rebuild the other. Kassel's forgotten and thus dilapidated Huguenot House, built during the early nineteenth century, attracted the attention of Gates, who found parallels in the history of the migrant workers who built it so many years ago with that of black and Hispanic builders in his own neighborhood in Chicago today.
Discovering a large decaying building in Chicago, whose architectural details remained intact, Gates envisioned an exchange and ultimately proposed to bring materials from the Chicago building to renovate the Huguenot House. While the project was realized in Kassel during documenta 13, the process will also be reversed: materials from the Huguenot House will later be reused to reconstruct the building in Chicago. In the pages of this book, Gates documents his plans for the exchange, as well as the elaborate and complex sociopolitical and historical details, in twelve thematic "ballads." The publication features forewords by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Madeleine Grynsztejn, essays by Michael Darling and Matthew Jesse Jackson, and an interview with Gates by Christov-Barkargiev, in addition to illustrated working notes by the artist.
Hardcover, 125 pages, 8" x 10.5", 2012. Published by dOCUMENTA (13) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The exhibtion Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad is presented at the MCA May 18-Oct 6, 2013. Learn more.