21st Serpentine Pavilion 2022 – Black Chapel by Theaster Gates
Serpentine Gallery, London
June 10 – October 16, 2022
The 21st Serpentine Pavilion, Black Chapel, designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates will open on 10 June 2022. Black Chapel is realised with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates with Goldman Sachs supporting the annual project for the eighth consecutive year. The opening of Black Chapel will kickstart a full season of creative and participatory events including experimental musical performances, sonic interventions, clay workshops, a panel discussion and a Japanese tea ceremony.
Conceived as a space for gathering, meditation and participation, with an emphasis on sacred music, Black Chapel will become a platform for Serpentine’s live programme throughout the summer and beyond, offering reflection, connection and joy to the public. Responding to Gates’ multidisciplinary practice using space, architecture, sculpture and material, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice, Serpentine, Yesomi Umolu and Guest Curator Bianca A. Manu have programmed live events in dialogue with Gates’ ambition to activate the Pavilion with artistic explorations of the monastic.
Drawn to the transcendental environment of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, Gates has produced a series of new tar works especially for Black Chapel. Determined to create a space that reflects the artist’s hand and sensibilities, seven panels hang from the interior structure. In these works, Gates honours his father’s craft as a roofer and uses roofing strategies and torch down, which requires an open flame to heat the material and affix it to the surface. An operating bronze bell, salvaged from St. Laurence, a landmark Catholic Church that once stood in Chicago’s South Side, will stand next to the entrance of the Pavilion. Underscoring the erasure of spaces for convening and spiritual communion in urban communities, the historic bell will act as a call to assembly, congregation and contemplation throughout the summer’s events.
Theaster Gates said: “The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice. It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives. Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude. I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and deep participation.”
This pioneering commission, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has presented the first UK structures by some of the biggest names in international architecture. In recent years it has grown into a highly anticipated showcase for emerging talents, from last year’s Sumayya Vally, Counterspace (South Africa), the youngest architect to be commissioned, and Frida Escobedo (Mexico), to Diébédo Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso) and Bjarke Ingels (Denmark), whose 2016 Pavilion was the most visited architectural and design exhibition in the world. The Serpentine Pavilion 2022 follows previous commissions by Olafur Eliasson with Kjetil Thorsen, 2006, and Ai Weiwei with Herzog & de Meuron, 2012, among other cultural figures.
Black Chapel is designed to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact, in line with Serpentine’s sustainability policy. The predominantly timber structure is light-weight and fully demountable, with a focus on sustainably sourced materials and the reusability of the structure as a whole after its time installed at Serpentine. While the Pavilion begins its life in Kensington Gardens, it will be re-sited to a permanent location in the future.
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