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Documentary Premiere

Gray is pleased to host the premiere of “How to Sell Hardware”, an experimental documentary by Theaster Gates. Made in conjunction with his solo exhibition at Gray Warehouse, the film will be introduced by curator and scholar, Romi Crawford.

Gates’s documentary chronicles his engagement with the former True Value hardware store whose materials and history are at the center of his exhibition. Once a lively central space for local commerce, the True Value store shared in the growth and prosperity of a thriving community on Chicago’s South Side during the 1970s and 80s. As business slowed in the 1990s with the emergence of big-box stores, the needs and habits of the once-prosperous Chicago neighborhood drastically changed. Gates, whose practice is deeply invested in the material preservation of neglected social and cultural histories, acquired the store and all of its merchandise in 2014 and has continued to engage with it ever since. Gates’s film brings together footage from his past exhibitions and projects, such as those at Fondazione Prada, Milan and the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, University of Chicago, Chicago, alongside interviews with hardware store owners.

The dialogue and screening will take place at Gray Warehouse on July 26. The introduction by Crawford will begin at 6:00 PM, followed by the screening of “How to Sell Hardware” at 6:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP is required via EventBrite.


Romi Crawford (PhD) is a cultural theorist and professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research and writing explore areas of race and ethnicity as these relate to American visual culture (including art, film, and photography). She regularly writes on contemporary art and is co-author of The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago and editor of Fleeting Monuments for the Wall of Respect.