Winner of Artes Mundi 6 Theaster Gates

Date posted: March 23, 2015

 Praise for Artes Mundi 6

 Why Can’t the Turner Prize be more like this” and “any one of the artists in this prize is a worthy contender for a solo exhibition in the Tate.” Independent

“After the flop of the recent Turner prize comes the Artes Mundi award. The standard is high” Sunday Times

Works that reflect the rich variety of global cultures expressed through a wide range of ideas.The Times

An exceptionally strong line upThe Guardian

“The UK’s most overlooked visual arts award” FT

Artes Mundi gives us a new perspective on questions that confront us all in a global society.” Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate

Winner of the Artes Mundi 6 Prize 2015


 Chicago-based, contemporary-artist Theaster Gates has been chosen from a shortlist of 10 of the world’s most important artists to win the UK’s leading prize for international contemporary art, Artes Mundi 6.


The Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones, First Minister for Wales announced Theaster Gates as the winner of the biannual award, with a prize sum of £40,000, at a ceremony held at National Museum Cardiff.

Upon excepting the award ,Gate’s announced that he would split the £40,000 prize amongst his fellow shortlisted artists, exclaiming, “Let’s split this Mother F*****r!”

Gates’s multi-faceted practice encompasses social activism, urban regeneration and community development in economically-deprived areas of South Side Chicago, St Louis and Omaha.  Known widely as The Poster Boy for Socially Engaged Art, Gates work has revolutionised contemporary art with what The New York Times has called his ‘circular economy’, in which Gates funds urban renewal through the sale of his artwork.

Gates’s winning installation, entitled A Complicated Relationship between Heaven and Earth, or When We Believe (2014), seeks to challenge a Western-centric ideology of Christianity that marginalises other religious traditions. The work takes form as a series of symbolic objects that have been used as vehicles for religious transcendence in diverse cultures across the globe. These include a Malines Boli, or bull sculpture, used to deter bad spirits and protect crops in Africa; a revolving, early 20th-Century goat riding tricycle used in American Masonic initiation ceremonies; slates from the roof of Chicago’s demolished St. Laurence church, a local landmark of white catholic and black protestant tensions; and a video of Billy Sings Amazing Grace, featuring the soul singer, Billy Forston, and Gates’s gospel ensemble, The Black Monks of Mississippi. Each object is linked by a shared focus on the relationship between spirituality and labour.

Theaster Gates has saidA Complicated Relationship between Heaven and Earth, or, When We Believe contemplates how objects have been used as signifiers of power and perhaps re-opens them to be real instruments for accessing belief. I am grateful to Artes Mundi for the global platform to expand the context for this work.”

 Karen Mackinnon, Artes Mundi Director has said, “We are delighted to announce Theaster Gates as the winner of Artes Mundi 6.  In these difficult social-political times, art that engages with social concerns offers meaning to our lives; it challenges, comforts, teaches and resists. All the shortlisted artists have produced outstanding exhibitions, but for this year’s judging panel Gate’s practice stood out for his ability to be not just an artist but an urbanist, a facilitator and a curator. Congratulations Theaster!”

JJ Charlesworth, Artes Mundi 6 Judging Chair has said,  “For the judges, this year’s shortlisted artists all demonstrate art’s ability to reflect on and engage with most pressing questions of human life today. They all succeed in that task, but among them, Theaster’s work stood out for its inspiring combination of historical research, visual art, performance and activism.  We are pleased to announce him as the winner of Artes Mundi 6”

 Theaster Gate’s winning piece alongside the other shortlisted works are on display at National Museum Cardiff, Chapter and Ffotogallery, Penarth, until 22nd February.

 Notes to editors:

About the prize

 Artes Mundi the UK’s biggest prize for contemporary art. The prize recognises and celebrates international-contemporary artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience.

 Runners up: Carlos Bunga, Omer Fast, Theaster Gates, Sanja Iveković, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sharon Lockhart, Renata Lucas,Renzo Martens, Karen Mirza & Brad Butler

Judging chair: JJ Charlesworth

Judging panel: Elise Atangana, Amanda Farr, Inti Guerrero and Alia Swastika

Previous winners:  Teresa Margolles (AM5), Yael Bartana (AM4), N S Harsha (AM3), Eija-Liisa Ahtila (AM2) and Xu Bing (AM1)


About the exhibition


Runs: 24th October 2014 – 22nd February 2015

Venues: National Museum of Art, National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NP

Chapter, Market Road, Cardiff CF5 1QE

ffotogallery, Turner House, Plymouth Road, Penarth, CF64 3DH

Opening Times (Museum): Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00am – 5.00pm

Information: | +44 (0) 29 2055 5300 | @artesmundi

Admission: Free


About Artes Mundi

Artes Mundi is an international arts organisation based in Cardiff, UK. Established in 2002, Artes Mundi is committed to supporting ground breaking, international, contemporary, visual artists whose work engages with social reality and lived experience.  Artes Mundi Exhibition and prize takes place biennially, running a sustained programme of outreach and learning projects alongside the public exhibition and prize giving.  In 2012 the Artes Mundi 5 Prize was awarded to Teresa Margolles. Previous winners were Yael Bartana (2010), N S Harsha (2008), Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2006) and Xu Bing (2004).


Artes Mundi is publicly funded by the Arts Council of Wales and by Cardiff City Council. Other funders include The Colwinston Charitable Trust, The Waterloo Foundation, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Myristica Trust, Garfield Weston and The Foyle Foundation. Further information about our partners can be obtained by contacting Midas Public Relations, details below.

Artes Mundi director, Karen MacKinnon and the shortlisted artists are available for interview.

High-res images, biographies of Artes Mundi director Karen MacKinnon and the full shortlist available

For all media enquiries please contact Tory Lyne-Pirkis or Fiona Livesey at Midas Public Relations | | 0207 361 78 60

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