Theaster Gates explores Japanese philosophy and Black identity on Afro-Mingei 12″

By in Label News, News





Ambient, gospel and jazz influences combine in live recording with The Black Monks.

Chicago artist and musician Theaster Gates is releasing a new 12″ called Afro-Mingei via his Black Madonna Press imprint and The Vinyl Factory.

Recorded live at White Cube Gallery in London with Gates’ Black Monks band (featuring Yaw Agyeman, Mikel Patrick Avery, Michael Drayton), Afro-Mingei draws on themes explored during Gates’ 2019 exhibition of the same name.

Combining two strands of Gates’ work – Japanese philosophy and Black identity – the exhibition explores ideas of cultural hybridity that are often submerged and forgotten within the structure of what Gates terms ‘Western-White sameness’.

Listen to a section of the recording below.


This was reflected in the title, Afro-Mingei, which placed African-American identity and the iconic hairstyle connected with ’60s and ’70s civil rights activism, with ‘mingei’ – a term coined by Japanese philosophy Soetsu Yanagi to denote folk or craft objects made by unknown craftsmen.

The exhibition brought together objects from both cultures, such as sakazuki and tatami from Japan alongside African masks and instruments like the Hammond B3 organ, whose sound is synonymous with jazz, soul and gospel music.

Afro-Mingei follows Theaster Gates’ 2019 Black Image Corporation exhibition at The Store X, 180 The Strand, which featured the first iteration of The Vinyl Factory Radio, with sets from the likes of Channel One, DEBONAIR, DJ Flight, and DEM1NS.

Head here to find out more and check out the artwork in more detail below.