An Incomplete History of Protest

Solo en Inglès

“I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I’m a visual artist.”
—Dread Scott

Hear directly from artists including Dread Scott, and Senga Nengudi as they discuss their work in An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. Listen to additional commentary from curators on selected highlights from the exhibition.

Firehoses sewn together.

Theaster Gates (b. 1973), Minority Majority, 2012. Decommissioned fire hoses and vinyl on plywood, 66 x 111 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (167.6 x 283.2 x 9.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Barbara and Michael Gamson 2016.262. © Theaster Gates. Photo © White Cube (Ben Westoby)

Theaster Gates: My name is Theaster Gates. I am an artist working in Chicago. 

I remember I had been reading a lot about the Civil Rights Movement, just as a kind of background research for other projects, and around the same time I found out that these discontinued fire hoses were available, and I was really just thinking about the fire hoses not yet as something that was connected to history, but just a raw material that was around, and maybe one day I would imagine using the canvas to make something.

Narrator: Gates is interested in the way materials can embody history, even in an abstract  work of art. Here, he uses old fire hoses to reference police violence against peaceful protesters. He called the work Minority Majority.

Theaster Gates: The title for this piece, I feel like I'm always thinking about the changes that are happening culturally, and we're in a moment when the classification of minority status, for black and brown people, is shifting, where black and brown people will become the majority of the American population. And so I wanted to acknowledge that truth so that as we're reflecting on this idea of the flag, or democracy, or Americanness, that there would be these small acknowledgements that this country is becoming more and more diverse, but also different in new ways.

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