Theaster Gates was born in 1973 in Chicago, where he still lives and works. His artistic practice encompasses sculpture, performance, installation and urban interventions, and is linked to his strong social commitment. Gates is involved in cultural programming and urban planning within his community, and he also devises development projects in Chicago’s neglected neighbourhoods. More than just an artist, Gates takes on the role of activist who brings about political and social change, in particular with his Dorchester Projects (2009). This is a housing operation, which is still running, in which Gates works with artists, researchers and architects to transform Chicago’s abandoned buildings into spaces for sharing and artistic creation; he encouragese residents of the neighbourhood to promote the transformation of the community to which they belong. According to Gates, this housing art belongs to a virtuous ecological system in which the improvements brought about by the project are financed through the sale of works of art made with materials found on site, investing them with certain historical and iconic meanings.
In 2015 Theaster Gates won the Artes Mundi 6 prize. Recent exhibitions include those held at the Museu Serralves, Porto (2014), MCA, Chicago (2013) and Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2011). Some of his works were shown at Punta della Dogana in the exhibition “Prima Materia” (2013-15).