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April 23, 2010
Monastic Residency:
The Black Monks of Mississippi 

The Black Monks of Mississippi, April 23, 2010. Front row, from left, Charisma Sweat, Theaster Gates, Yaw Agyeman, Aya-Nicole Cook and back row, from left, Leroy Bach, Josh Abrams, Tomas Fujiwara, and Jason Adasiewicz. Photograph by © Paula Court
The Black Monks of Mississippi, April 23, 2010. Front row, from left, Charisma Sweat, Theaster Gates, Yaw Agyeman, Aya-Nicole Cook and back row, from left, Leroy Bach, Josh Abrams, Tomas Fujiwara, and Jason Adasiewicz. Photograph by © Paula Court

The Black Monks of Mississippi are an order of musicians and singers who temporarily submit themselves to ideals of musical restraint and semi-strict adherence to the blues form, which Theaster Gates believes to be the most important root in the American musical tradition. The Black Monks strive to be holy, restrained, orderly, and disciplined, but they fall short. What they achieve instead is a very human response to displaced spiritual ecstasy, particularly in the flavor of the Black Church.

This event is one in a series of “monastic residencies” organized by 2010 artist Theaster Gates, who will collaborate with academics, artists, and street musicians in the Museum’s Sculpture Court throughout the duration of the Biennial.

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